It's raining here in Philadelphia, the sky is dark and my mood matches it exactly.
I often refrain from reading the news - Whole months pass where I am certain I'll be unable to handle the onslaught of information, needless violence, and atrocities of our modern world. I broke from my usual avoidance today - big mistake.
The first article I read was of an 18 year old college student whose car flipped off the road and who survived 8 days upside down, trapped in his car by drinking water from the stream out of his size 13 high-top sneaker. His disappearance was reported very quickly - he failed to show up at his girlfriend's apartment. He was trapped just off the Baltimore Washington Parkway, less than a mile from his home, and yet he was not found until he managed to climb up an impossibly steep, 30 feet long embankment. A good Samaritan saw him lying on the road trying to signal for help and stopped.
The second article was about an African-American woman who was held and tortured by six adults in a West Virginia home. Six white people assaulted her for over a week. An anonymous tip lead police to investigate and the woman happened to be visible when they stopped by. The list of abuse and torture that the woman endured was awful, hard to read and impossible to understand.
Both articles have me wondering how these things happen. How does a young man go missing, just a few feet off a busy highway, for over a week? How does a woman end up being tortured by six adults - male and female, some members of the same family, some not? At what point does one of them say "This is not right"?
I argued with my friend last weekend about giving of one's self without fear. I was operating under the assumption that goodwill will be returned. Certainly not by everyone, but by most. I still believe that, but reading of these events makes it more difficult.
I'm left to wonder if I should spend more time worrying for my own safety. My friends and loved ones would probably say yes - that I am too cavalier with sharing my energy - that I am not allowed to love and cherish complete strangers.
I say no. I will love strangers. I will be angry for these two people that were forgotten and mistreated. I will give my time and energy to those that need it. More of us need to serve as models - or where will we be?
I know I should be doing even more than I do. I should give more, I should volunteer more, and I should speak up more. I'm going to seriously try to spend more of my time and energy on good works, and less time and money on frivolousness.