It was 1995; Christmas was less than a week away. American Airlines flight 965 was headed towards Columbia. On board were families packed into their seats, Christmas gifts were tucked under their seats and into the overhead bins.
Along with the other passengers, a twenty year old Mercedes Ramirez was anxiously enjoying the trip. It was her birthday, and she asked to switch seats to sit close to her father. Her parents were taking her to her native home, a place she had longed to see. They began to watch an inflight movie, and that was the last thing she remembered.
Days later she woke up on a mountain top. Rescuers shuffled her and three other people to the nearest hospital. Flight 965 had crashed in Buga, Columbia, only four people had survived, one hundred and sixty did not.
In spite of such an unbelievable tragedy, today Mercedes is an inspirational speaker and was recently featured on Cleveland's Cleveland's 19 Action News. She tells her audiences, “Each of us is given a second chance at life every morning we wake up. What are you going to do with your second chance?”
For her second chance, Mercedes determined to do what she could to make the world a better place. She now travels the world to motivate people to embrace each moment by caring for others and to make their own lives masterpieces.
She determined to take a moment of agony and make a decision that her life would leave an indelible stamp on those she would come into contact with. Her story is evidence that the human spirit can overcome even the greatest of odds.
Too often the media is consumed with people that only seem to take. Filtered through a lens of negativity, it is easy to believe that people are only out for themselves. But the reality is that in an untold number of lives there are examples of givers whose lives should inspire us to pour our efforts into something beyond our own needs.
The quickest way to move beyond pain is to help others, to do something meaningful to bring peace and joy to those you come into contact with.
Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. And yes, there are many takers. But there are those who change the world as well.
Scripture talks about change coming from a source:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1).
“Open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18)
And perhaps most importantly, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
Every day, no matter how much pain we have known, we have a decision to make, that decision is to give, or to give up. One path leads to more darkness, the other leads to light that dispels all the dark.