I am cursed with intelligence and a deep sense of logic. I’m not Mr. Spock, mind you – way too emotional for that – but it pains me that our world is so illogical. I want there to be justice, and fairness, and I want things to work out as they should. Of course that is silly.
A very wise man once told me that knowledge equals obligation. If you know something, you have a moral responsibility to address it in one way or another. He was not suggesting that I personally could solve the world’s problems, but that as a thinking creature, I could not disown, or detach from, the knowledge I had gained. I think the discussion was initiated by the horrors in Bosnia in the nineties. Women were being raped as part of an ethnic assault, and I was literally losing sleep over it. A deep depression was initiated by the understanding that human beings can be cruel and violent, and that innocent victims were powerless to fight it. I was powerless to fight it.
My friend told me that if we know of a horror, we are obliged to do something about it. What does this mean? Do I send money to relief organizations? Is a care package of any value at all? Should I write to my congressmen and senators demanding intervention? Is it enough to know, and to speak out? What???
I am not strong enough to fight the evil in the world on a personal level. It overwhelms me. But how can I sleep at night while these horrors exist, if I have done nothing?
My daughter has spent the last 4 weeks volunteering in New Orleans, helping with the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. (http://katrinanoyes.blogspot.com/) I so admire her willingness to put herself in a situation where she not only believes in helping, but is actually doing something. She is young, and strong, and socially responsible. By comparison, I am a failure. I send money to food banks and other charities; I support human rights and environmental organizations. My heart is in the right place, but my actions do not follow. I cannot put myself in harm’s way. I am a coward.
But I also see the hopelessness. I believe there is nothing I can do that will matter. How small of me to feel this way, while my daughter sweats in the oppressive heat of New Orleans in July. I know that if we help one person, or one family, we have succeeded, but I struggle with an inability to get past the big picture. I see a world of pain, and torture, and neglect, and abuse, and am paralyzed.
I believe human beings are a seriously flawed species, and it is just a matter of time before we destroy ourselves and anything else in our path. I truly believe this. We destroy the gift that is the earth, and we destroy one another. I think it is a flaw in our makeup. When Mother Nature created man, she gave him free will, but forgot to give him common sense. When she gave him a competitive spirit, she left out a sense of fair play.
We shall be the only species thus far that becomes extinct through our own actions.
This depresses me beyond belief.