Following the recent events in Oregon at Clackamas Mall, and then in Connecticut, with so many innocent lives being stolen, I have been experiencing a suffocating sense of sadness and heartache deep in my soul. In a quiet moment of reflection I realized that these feelings were all too familiar.
I sat and thought on when I might have had this overwhelming sense of sadness…this grayness that creeps up into every moment of the day, the sense that our world was never meant to be this way.
And then it hit me.
These were the same familiar feelings that I experienced for about 1 year after leaving Kenya and returning home to life here in the United States.
Desperation, grief, loss, sadnessand anger after bearing witness to terrible acts and circumstances.
Weeping at the thought of the cruelty of this world. Of children being stolen, women raped, beaten and disregarded, murder, deceit, children going hungry and dying slow, scared deaths. These were events that were routine experiences in Kenya among friends, neighbors, and employees. Upon coming home, I struggled with explaining the intensity and heartache of it all. Of what it means to be a witness to such horror and the feeling of not being able to do anything about it? How can you explain to your girlfriends that you sat on the floor weeping for these people now half way around the world?
It’s the same feeling now. Except, the difference is, most everyone in America feels it too. You can just say Connecticut, or “school kids” and everyone nods without more words being spoken, there is a mutual understanding of the unfairness and evilness of it all. A shared sense of grief, a hunt for the “cause” and a wish for there to be an answer.
After experiencing that year of feeling “unsettled” after returning from Kenya, knowing that daily, while we lived here in our comfortable life, others struggled through no fault of their own…..it was such a blessing and relief to be approached about partnering to create real and lasting change in the lives of the most desperate and helpless there. Are we doing anything earth shattering? No! But we are doing something, it’s not that hard, and it makes a big difference.
Are we entering into relationship with other human beings and sharing in their hurt and their triumphs? Yes! I truly believe that this is the central step in bringing about change in this world….being willing to enter into the grief and heartache of another, experiencing that discomfort and knowledge, and then being open to acting on it.
The alternative? Insulating our selves, covering our eyes and ears to these horrors and pretending that they don’t exist. Telling ourselves that those people brought it onto themselves and being shocked when these events occur in our own neighborhoods and communities.
It’s no more a child in Connecticut’s fault than it is the fault of the women bought and sold for sex or the child sitting listless in the dirt, starving and ill. The good news? Each and every one of us is able to do something about it—not in the same way, but in the similar way by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the hurt and loss of each other. Loving one another. Sharing with one another. Being real, raw and dirty with one another. Using what we’ve been given to make the biggest difference we can.
Each and every one of us become the solution to these deep problems in our world when we reach out to the suffering, marginalized, and forgotten among us. When we look for opportunities to get involved and make a difference in the lives that intersect ours. Wherever it is you choose to make your mark, be encouraged and carry on, action rather than intentions or ideas is what solutions are made of. Anne