It can feel impossible to find your way back to optimism again after the heartbreaking tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub in June, but the lyrics to the Orlando tribute "Hands" are certainly a step in the right direction. The song was released as a charity track on Jul. 6 and is a collaboration by a whole host of big-name artists, from Selena Gomez, to Jason Derulo, to Kacey Musgraves, to Jennifer Lopez, to Rupaul, and beyond. All proceeds from sales of the song will go toward three charities — Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, and GLAAD — and the simple fact that the song even exists makes me feel a little better about the world, because it's a pure case of celebrities giving back, with no ulterior motive.
But then the lyrics themselves are the cherry on top of this heart-warming sundae, because they give me faith in the power of the human spirit to unite and rise up against hate. There's one line in particular, in the very first verse, sung by Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani, that reminds me — and I hope it does the same for you — that we all have agency in this fight. It's easy to feel helpless and lost, but they drive home the point that being good and strong and brave is a choice that we all have the capacity to make.
Can hold a gunAnd hold your heartCan put out firesAnd make 'em startSkin and bonesAnd flesh and bloodWith all this nerveHow did we get this numb
It's a sentiment that's repeated throughout the song, this dichotomy of what we, as human beings, are capable of. Sure, you can take more from this world than you give back, and you can hurt people, and many people sadly do make that choice. But the choice that you make is up to you, and the important thing is not to let yourself get inured to it. Your power is quite literally in your own hands, no matter the terror and lack of control that others might want you to feel:
Cus they can hurtOr they can healThey can give backOr they can stealThey can break the worldOr they can change it too
It may seem like a small thing, but it's a hugely important message. We are all in this together, deciding every day to be good, and you are not alone: "If a million hands can build a wall / A million hands can break it down." It's exactly what I needed to hear right now.