I don’t know about you, but I get kind of numb to all the wars and natural devastation we have been experiencing across the globe over these past years. Just going back to the early 90’s there was Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and the American response to it, then the succeeding Gulf war (Iraq), not to mention Afghanistan. There have been, and are, wars all around the world, it seems. There has been the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Somali Civil War, The Chechen conflict, Kosovo, the Croatian war of Independence, Bosnia. There has been the war in North-West Pakistan, the Shiite Insurgency in Yemen, the Darfur/Sudan, and Rwandan genocides, the Cambodia/Thailand border conflicts, and now the Egyptian, and Libyan uprisings.
And these are to name just a few. It seems as if much of the planet is continually on the brink of, if not already involved in, war.
There are the Al Qaeda attacks that have been going on all around the world (New York, London, Madrid, Germany, Yemen, and many others too numerous to mention.) The continuing drug cartel, and gang wars in Mexico and South America, and in the United States. The world has become a battleground.
And then to make matters worse, there are the natural disasters.
The recent devastation in Japan, the New Zealand quake, the 8.8 in Chile in 2010, the Myanmar cyclone, the Haiti earthquake, the Indonesia Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., flooding and landslides in India, China, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Romania, Poland, Portugal, and in many other countries of Europe.
There are countless millions of people who have been, and are, being killed by these Geo-Political conflicts and Natural Disasters, not even to mention the untold millions who are impacted by the fallout. We watch the ‘highlights’ on our televisions and computers. We feel bad for the nameless/faceless victims of the devastation. We measure our own humanity by our internal response to the horror. We measure our sensitivity by the same standard. We might pray for those affected, the families of the deceased. We might even send money. We might be depressed for a little while, and we might feel fortunate that it wasn’t us. But we quickly return to the comfort and safety of our daily routine. Work, Facebook, sports, Judge Judy, fast food, movies and shopping.
Now, I’m not judging, or condemning, you for how you deal with these kinds of tragedies. I’m smart enough to know that most people are compassionate and well meaning. I can only assume that to be the case with you as well. But I know that when I get numb to all of the misfortune in the world that there are many others who are affected by it in the same way. I’m not saying that it’s not a natural thing to kind of freeze up inside at such an inundation of mayhem and tragedy. I’m just saying that I don’t like it when I do. It goes against all that I’d like to be as a human being.
But I am also aware of my limitations, and that I cannot afford to personalize all of the suffering in the world. I cannot hold it all, and I know I’d not be able to find a place to put it if I were to take it on, consciously, or unintended even.
Recognizing this, I find myself grateful that I don’t need to embrace the misery. It would do the world not one bit of good to add even another person to that number. The best I can do is to hold sacred those who have survived, that they may eventually find healing from the pain. That they may make the most of what remains of their own lives.
Regarding my own personal impasse, and possibly yours, I guess ‘numb’ might not be such an inappropriate condition considering that it is, most assuredly, a protective, and temporary state of being.
Say a prayer for those left suffering.
And be thankful that you are not being counted among them.