I landed myself a little job last week. And it is making me very, very sad.
It’s an easy job. For just a couple hours a day I post links to the blog of a non-profit. No-brainer kind of work that helps out with the bills. So, what’s the problem? The non-profit organization happens to be a hospital based in Haiti.
In an attempt to keep my mind free of painful images and thoughts I have recently tried to cut down on my subconscious intake of world news. I say subconscious because I am one of those people who have NPR on all day while I’m working. It is just background noise most of the time. My ears perk up and I pay attention to interesting, human-interest stories or when something makes me go, “wow!” But the majority of the time people blowing themselves up and children being kidnapped is ignored, not because I don’t care, but because I care too much. But I know the sadness is computed on some level of my consciousness and it is having an effect.
I’m sensitive. I want to save the world. When I can’t I have to block it out.
I used to think I wasn’t sensitive because I didn’t cry over human tragedy. I wiggled out of volunteering at a soup kitchen one Christmas during high school and felt heartless as a result. I would watch my sister with tears rolling down her face as she recalled a sad story and I would think, what is wrong with me? It has been only recently that I have come to realize this is a defense mechanism.
When I was young I couldn’t watch horse-racing or a cavalry battle on TV in case a horse fell. Photos of beauty industry animal experiments have always made me nauseous. Show me a mother blowing cigarette smoke over her newborn and I have to stop myself from snatching the infant away to the safety of my own arms. A dog tied in an icy yard fills me with rage.
One evening Hubby and I watched the movie, Last King of Scotland. I cried through most of it and by the end I was wrecked. I sobbed and sobbed for probably an hour. I hated mankind and wanted to cancel my membership to the human race.
After Hurricane Katrina when we had escaped north from our wind beaten town in Mississippi I had survivor’s guilt. Sometimes a story of child or animal abuse that I may have heard weeks or even months earlier will attack me from the rear and I am left broken with the knowledge that this kind of thing is happening everywhere every second of my pampered-life day. When I hear of the plight of women in different parts of the world I feel guilty for my warm home, loving husband, intact genitalia, and my freedom to be and do whatever I desire. I question from time to time what right I have to write this blog promoting positive thinking and dreaming big, when the majority of the world’s population can’t imagine much more beyond their next grain of rice.
And so, although I am merely cutting and pasting links from online newspapers around the country, I can’t help but catch the words, “… who watched his parents die…,” and “…debris seeped into his brain…” I stare at the smiling (smiling!) face of the little girl whose leg is missing from the knee down. Sadness has seeped in. I feel unable to function. I wander around the house distracted and burdened by an intangible weight.
I’ve given my donation. What else can I do? My tears can’t help them. Helpless. Helpless. All the positive thinking in the world can’t reverse what has happened. It can’t bring back dead parents, missing limbs, buried children. But can it make a difference going forward? I don’t know the answer to that. Until I figure it out I will keep the radio off and try to stay as positive about my own life and its petty, trivial problems as I can.
Anything else would be sheer ingratitude and self-centeredness.
CRUDEM.org: 100% of your donation supports the needs of the hospital in the wake of this disaster.