When I was a child I remember the first world issue I really took to heart which was the starving children in Bangladesh. I remember crying myself to sleep and writing poetry because the idea that children were starving to death instead of running and playing like I was – was so hard and unfair.
It was a concept, not a reality for me. I looked at pictures, separated with a glossy coolness between the reality and my world that allowed me a disconnect despite the tears. They were “over there” and I was safely “here.”
As I have grown, I have come to understand there are many countries where the mortality rate among children is high, due to violence and poverty. I have grown to understand that there are countries where many young people are killed due to violence and that there are countries where the young are expected to die, irrelevant consequences in ancient and financial tug of wars for religion and power, drugs and sex. Despite my tears and my concerns or even my actions on “behalf of” I am still protected by the label “third world countries” and my own privilege.
Today I look at my country and my children’s countries and I see children dying due to poverty and violence. I see corruption and agendas. I see young people that have no hope or expectation of longevity. I see that their mortality will soon be a tragedy. This in countries of power and influence and wealth.
In my lifetime I am seeing the warnings we did not heed, the lessons we did not learn, and the price we are paying with our children’s future.
I have no promise for my grandchildren – just the guarantee that some of them will never make it and all of this will seem normal for them.
I hear the world around me echoing “but what can we do?” I see how afraid people are and how defeated they feel. It is easier to look away than it is to face this and face our own feelings of helplessness. It would be awesome to say we disengage because we have faith it will all be ok but “saying we have faith” was never meant to be a passive blanket we pull over our heads in the night.
“Doing something,” does not mean we have to strap a bomb to our body. It does not mean we have to protest, or make speeches, or even run for office. It means we have to wake up. It means we have to examine our own lives and figure out what is important and what is not. Reduce and simplify, disengage from things and start embracing one another. Work together. Set an example, help, encourage those around you. Be kind. Who you are and what you want should not cost other people their happiness or lives.
Teach your children discernment. Teach them to honour that discernment. Teach them to be self reliant. Help them connect to life in a way that motivates them. If you have given them nothing in their life except the example of your own unhappiness, your struggles, your endless efforts to gain things which really amount to nothing and never last and never fully satisfy, medicating yourself, zoning out with television and entertainment, with no lasting sustainable relationships and a plateful of anger and resentment towards others served up every day … then why are you surprised they are the way they are?
Just be a whole you in your own environment and do what you can.
Anyone can make a huge list of the things they will never be able to do. I not only want you to forget that list, I want you to forget all lists. There is no more time for lists …. there is only time to look around, roll up your sleeves and get doing.
If every person did no more than just that, it would be a tide that would change everything.