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19th of July 2018

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Sister Helen Prejean's Twitter account is proof that the world still has good in it

Gimme a hit of that sweet, sweet human kindness.Gimme a hit of that sweet, sweet human kindness.Image: amanda edwards/Getty Images for Discovery Communications 2016%2f09%2f16%2fe5%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde1lzew.e9fc9By Heather Dockray2018-07-12 20:52:33 UTC

Caring people in 2018 spend a lot of time alternating between rage and total dissociation. Personally, there's nothing I love more than watching my soul stand outside my broken little body while it reads Twitter.

It's ...  unhealthy. And as much as I love shoveling buckets of milk sauce down my gullet or drowning my sorrows in mid-90s nostalgia, sometimes you've got to actually respond to the untreated pain in your heart. 

To heal my soul trauma, I head to the Twitter account of the nation's leading "Death Penalty Nun," Sister Helen Prejean. 

It's an unconventional pick, to be sure. You've likely heard of Prejean from her famous book, Dead Man Walking, which captured her experiences with two men on Death Row. Dead Man Walking was turned into an award-winning movie in 1995, featuring progressive heavyweights Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Prejean is now considered one of the country's most prominent and powerful anti-death penalty activists. 

I understand why it's not everyone's "soothing cup of tea" to hear about people on death row whose executions go violently awry. Prejean sticks to her material. Of the executions Prejean tweets about, many do end up going forward. She never minimizes the gravity of the injustice.

Still, when she's not counseling the afflicted on death row, Prejean has made time in her schedule to comfort the sad (and far more privileged) humans of Twitter. Her account exemplifies human kindness. 

Recently, for example, Prejean asked her followers to list things they do to maintain hope in hard times. Prejean now responds daily, "tweet by tweet," sharing their strategies and providing her own audio response on her blog.

Earlier this week, Prejean responded to one man who uses poetry to stay sane. She read one of his favorites, a fiercely hopeful Langston Hughes classic, out loud.

Are you feeling beaten down by recent events? Dispirited? Despairing? Numbed? Did something in the past couple of weeks feel like the last straw? I’m feeling it, too.

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) June 27, 2018

I’d like to take the time to answer any questions you might have about how to survive, how to continue to strive for a better world, when it all feels too much. How do we turn a tide of assaults on human life and dignity into an opportunity to become stronger?

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) June 27, 2018

Thank you for all your responses about how you're feeling and coping in these challenging times. I'm going through each comment and tweet and going to respond to them all. I've been dictating my responses, so each will come in a little audio clip. I'll share links in this thread:

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) July 9, 2018

Today, I'm responding to Jeff. You can read Jeff's email and listen to my response here: You say it's the dark night of the soul for our country. I agree with you, although when you look back there have been other dark nights - but we live in this one.

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) July 9, 2018

I wish I was snarky or cynical enough to say it didn't help, but it did. A lot. 

I'm feeling more upbeat! Do you want to know why?

It's because I took action. I took action alongside others. I went to the Families Belong Together rally in Billings, Montana, went there with friends and joined the throng.

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) July 2, 2018

If empowering Langston Hughes poems aren't your thing, there's other great stuff too. I've been laughing for over a year about the Sister's chronic mix-ups with zombies from The Walking Dead.

From August 2017:

I've gotten some confusing messages about zombies recently, so let's clear this up: my story is Dead Man Walking, not The Walking Dead!

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) August 10, 2017

The zombie writer and the death penalty nun!

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) August 10, 2017

March 2018:

Based on some messages in my inbox, it looks like it’s time for a PSA: I wrote Dead Man Walking, not The Walking Dead! Zombies are WAY outside my wheelhouse! 🧟‍♀️ 🧟‍♂️

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) March 5, 2018

I'm holding onto that comedic gem for as long as I can.

It takes an incredible amount of spiritual strength to look America straight in the eye, see all the spectacular cruelty it visits upon its most vulnerable citizens, and still stand up straight.

Look at how much hope this one person has! She doesn't even appear to be faking it.

She even rocks a very sporty "I'll listen" tee.

Like so many of you, I'm morally outraged at what is happening to the children at the border, where they're being separated from their families. I urge you to act, not to be paralyzed. Call your Congresspersons and ask them to support the Keep Families Together Act: 202-224-3121.

— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) June 18, 2018

To all my sad friends on Twitter, I encourage you to spend a little less time reading every crushing headline on Twitter and a little *more* time organizing for 2018. Soothe yourself with pasta, friends, and Prejean's Twitter account. It's not a cure-all, but kindness is in short supply nowadays. Better hold onto it wherever you can find it.

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