My idealism and optimism have taken a hit today.
First, in response to my enthusiasm to some of the ideas in William Easterly's book "White Man's Burden..." a friend of mine put things in perspective.
Instead of one economic solution versus another, he reminded me that what is beyond the rhetoric is "the poorest on other side of the ocean that threaten to become a cauldron, seething with hatred and not even the hallowed halls of academia will be immune from the bile that will flow freely from the other side..." And he would know.
This combined with Angelina Jolie's op-ed article in the Washington Post today have me reeling. Read her column here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/27/AR2007022701161.html
Did I really think things were getting better? Well, you'll remember from earlier in January that all I said was "cautious optimism." But now, I am barely holding onto that.
Angelina Jolie and my dear sweet friend are screaming "Things aren't getting better!" at the top of their lungs. Their words are powerful and haunting. They are disturbing and paralyzing, and they come at a moment when the last thing we need to be is paralyzed.
I'm a smart woman, but no amount of intellect can solve these problems. These are the kind that call for action, not words. Action of the courageous, action of the persuasive, action of heroes. So few people are willing to fight these kinds of fights. They're unattractive, full of controversy, full of naysayers, full of danger, but there is NO alternative. Or at least the alternative is the seething pit of bile that comes after us all.
So what can we do? If we must start with our words, then that is where we must start. But, then it must move to our wallets. We can prepare for big things, while starting with little things. We can pledge to help in any way we can. We can attend a concert, write a check, reach out to those in need - those that are displaced, those that are in immediate need.
And we can support those people that work for organizations that are on the front lines. The Red Cross, Save Darfur.org, etc. And we can support those people that are trying to make things change, the ones trying to make people accountable.
For today, I challenge you to go through your day and count your comforts. Start with that. Wow, all the water I want, all the food I can eat, all the electricity I can use. I have my health, my safety, and some security. I have a bed, a toilet, food and water. I don't have to steal from anyone today. I don't have to walk 22 kilometers to get firewood so I can eat. And, God willing, I won't be raped today.
Now, all I need to do is figure out what the next step is. There must be one. We all must create one.
I can live with less so others have more.
For those of you that have seen Schindler's list, I just don't want to have that moment at the end of it all when I realize that I could have done more. That there is something little that I could have lived without - something little that could have saved a person's life.
I could go on and on about this. But for now, I'll leave it here. I'll leave it right here, knowing what a luxury it is to be able to put this aside for someone else to think about - until I decide to revisit it. I am lucky, I am lucky, I am truly lucky.