Warning…I’m on a bit of a soapbox.
I just finished reading a book about WW2 (Escape from Davao). A quote from the book resonated in me as it applies to everything: Natural and man-made disasters, the horrors of the news, the treatment of our elderly, 9/11, Ferguson, police being killed, domestic violence, the drug war and (insert horrendous thing here). I honestly think words from 1944 are still true. Until it becomes personal,until we understand that WE must feel we cannot win.
“We’ve got to have the nature of this war drilled into us Day after day before we sense the whole horror of it, the demands of it, the danger if it….This War has not yet become personal with us…But if we hear the truth day by day … We’ll silence the babble, sober the feather-minded and fight like hell” (Palmer Hoyt page 332)
Reading this it hit me. We need to start fighting like hell so that our children have a better world to raise their own children rather than one filled with fear. The problem becomes what to fight. In truth we all have our own battles. We possess that moment/thing/issue that resonates in our heart and lights a fire in our brain.
Until I had Abby, I gave no thought to education and how important it is to be involved. I never would have joined the PTA and I definitely would not be advocating for our children in my role as a school committee member.
Until I met David, I admired firefighters but did not think about their safety. Until I met our best friend I respected our soldiers but didn’t worry about them on the battlefield. When our best friend was deployed (sadly, more than once), we organized care packages and did what we could to make his and other’s time away from their family easier. We knew it was important that they were respected, cared about and thought about–not once but every day they are away.
I can 100% guarantee that without Bridget I would not be blogging, advocating and educating myself on disabilities. I would not (sadly) give one thought to someone using the word “retard” or ask them to find another word (but now, PLEASE find another word!) and if they cannot they can leave my kitchen (true story). I would not notice that Canada wasn’t as handicap accessible as the USA side of Niagara Falls. I did not think of IEPs, therapies, nurses and doctors or the multitude of friends I would need to have her flourish in this unexpected life.
I think I have answered the call when it comes to my family and the issues that are important to me. I have failed, though, in answering societies call. Racism has never affected me. I nod my head and believe I am not a racist, yet I have never spoken up or added my voice to those who asked why all lives do not matter.
I have survived being homeless and never looked back. I haven’t given back, either. I have not added my voice to others who strive every day to make the homeless visible and real. To help them not by giving them a donation but providing a way to a secure life. I see the refugees and feel bad but wonder why we should help them when we have so many here on our soil who are sleeping in the cold. Then I change the channel or flip the page.
I have been affected by addiction and I sympathize for those families that are on the tough road to recovery. I haven’t put my money/time/effort where my thoughts are to help those in need.
Because I, like many others, have fallen victim to the passage above: it isn’t personal. We have become desensitized to the horrors of the world. Gang violence, it should outrage us. Racial injustice, it should make us stand up for our neighbor and not pull down the shade. Homelessness should not make us think of the root but fire us up to find solutions. Seeing a child die of drug addiction should not make us think, thank Goodness it’s not my kid but rather ask how did society become so immune that someone’s death doesn’t affect us. A little girl should not be killed and not one neighbor call to report her missing when images were promoted all over our city.
Each evil, every injustice in the world should be personal. They should unite not divide us to a common purpose: leaving this world better than we found it. We shouldn’t assume some one else will call, care or solve the issue. It takes all of us to stop switching the channel and begin adding our voice.
It’s a tall order, the problems in our world seem to overwhelm our will. I am suggesting, though, that we begin to give a little more to one another’s personal cross. That each one of us deliberately choose to show kindness, not contempt. Each day we take a moment to help someone bear their burden and not judge them for it. Spare five moments away from reality TV or Facebook and ask an organization how you can help with the cause that is personal to you or to someone you know. Raising awareness isn’t hard, it just means speaking up.
I firmly believe in our ability to overpower the dark in this world. It just takes standing up for one personal issue at a time and having a friend stand with you.
Getting off soapbox now, go do some good.