Saturday, January 16, 2010

AWARENESS - We Are Blind to the Tragedies around Us

I remember a time while driving home from downtown, the cold rain poured down and the wind blew. I'm pretty sure I saw some hail bouncing off the pavement. Nasty. But after the previous summer's drought, I didn't mind at all.

Today is sunny and warming, and I just returned from a walk. As always, I looked up at the homes of my neighbors. I never do this without thinking about the separateness of our lives. One of my neighbors loves helping me with technical chores around the house. I wondered: What's he doing today? How is his family today? Is everything OK? Because the truth is, I have no idea. I could go knock on his door or call him and find out. But if I did this with all my friends, I'd run out of time and fall far short of contacting all of them. It's as if a tough membrane of awareness separates us.

Another friend is a breast cancer survivor, but her extreme therapy damaged her heart, causing another life-threatening condition. She has her ups and downs. I wonder if she's out of bed today, but the house was quiet and I haven't heard from that couple in a while. Maybe I will call...

I wonder what life is like for the Haitians today. Not long ago the media reported that their problems were getting worse every day, that chaos could turn into anarchy. I try hard to imagine their plight, but it's not working. I need more information. More images. I'll bet the relief workers on the ground don't have that problem.

But information sources can dry up. I don't know if ice is still melting in Antarctica. I don't know which four species went extinct yesterday. I have no idea what life was like for soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan yesterday. Does Tiger Woods have a new significant other? Television news and newspapers have delivered lots of information about these things, but not recently. They know people's interests can be saturated. If they feature worn-out stories - even if the situation on the ground is still urgent - their journalism enterprise could falter.

If I'm not there and if my information sources dry up, my consciousness of what's happening in the world pulls back. I care about Haiti, but how long will I now that the news has stopped reporting it? It's hard to react with a caring heart to something I don't know about.

I'm fond of saying, "Doing the right thing often means doing the hard thing. But it gets easier every time we do it." If we're going to be compassionate, if we're going to do the right thing, we have to keep digging to get current, accurate information even when traditional sources stop reporting it.

We have to push against the membrane of awareness. If we don't, we won't like the kind of world we find ourselves living in.


Beth said...

Your wise post touches me on so many levels, Denny.

Thank you for this.


shareandi said...

I'm so touched. Think I'm like you in so many ways. These thoughts are revelations. Keep them coming, Denny.

Thanks a great deal!