Ok, so that’s an understatement. Over 117,000 dead. What does it say about me that one of my first responses is “I want to go there.” Go and help, I mean…or at least, that’s what I mean now. But I also wonder what that would be like. I mean, I can’t imagine losing 1/4 of my community. How would I react? How would I function? What would I be thinking? I really do want answers to these questions.
I’ve always had some not-so-perverse desire to actually experience something bad…I mean, really bad. Not because I’m strange, or have sado-masochistic tendencies or anything, but because I feel so…insulated, sometimes. I mean, I’ve never seen anyone die. In other parts of the world, and in our part of the world in previous times, that was unheard of. You would have to be strange or cowardly or something to not have had that experience. I mean, I sit here and look at my Christmas tree, and at the pile of my gifts still stacked under it (because that’s what we do with Christmas gifts in our family), and I get that sense that in some real way I don’t live in the same world as the people for whom life is now just a string of minutes held together only by the need to survive through all of them.
And yet there’s the selfish part of me, too–the part of me that doesn’t really want to sell my new iPod so that I can send money to help them all. If I could sell it and go, and be with them, and hear their stories and come to understand their lives…now that would be tempting. In the end, that’s what I want to do. I want to know people from all over the world, and to hear their stories, and maybe to tell those stories to others. I don’t want to do this so that the rich send money to the poor, though that would be great, too; I want to do it because I think it’s important that, as we live and move and breathe in our insulated world, we need to have some sense of what’s really going on in the rest of the world. The time is coming (and maybe is here?) when we need to have a global perspective. And that doesn’t mean trying to make them all like us. It means, instead, that we know what the world is about, that we know what life is really like in other places, not so we can help, and not so we can change them and make them like us, but so that we can relate, and truly love each other.
I’m not sure why this is so important to me, and I’m not sure that it’s not just some of my own neuroses coming out to play.
Oh, and by the way, I think it’s less that we’re stingy and more that the world doesn’t want to accept our help in the way we give it. I mean, sure, we had interests in the Iraq invasion, but we’re still there, mostly, to help out the Iraqis. And everyone rags on us for it. Yet we’re going into more and more debt, and people are dying and children are growing up without fathers because of it. How can that be stingy? Maybe we shouldn’t give that way…but that’s not my point. My point is that we ARE giving…and all we get is criticism. Different love languages, anyone?