Thursday, May 20, 2010

These vague feelings that had been prowling around my mind

Four million deaths since 1998 in the Republic of Congo.

Less than $1 for a day's work in a rice field in Thailand, provided you make your quota. If you don't, your wages get docked.

An innocent man who's already spent 12 years in a prison in Texas for a crime he never committed.

A twelve year-old girl in Afghanistan who was set on fire for refusing to marry a man thirty years older.

A  three-month old infant in Nigeria dies from a preventable disease.

A protester shot in Bangkok.

100 million more Indians living under the poverty line today than six years ago.

Part of my TV dinner.  This is the world at 6pm on a very normal day.  There is nothing abnormal here, neither my reaction (or lack of it) nor the events that have occurred and that continue to occur.

The words of Phil Collin's 'Just another day in paradise' keep running through my mind. What an odd, odd thing.  Or is it? Perhaps it's as normal as everything else on this very normal day.  But paradise?

Have I lost sight of what's normal?  Is it just as normal for me to be blogging about it?  Am I really interrogating the meaning of 'normal'?  What is this really about?  Is there anything I can do?  Do I want to?

This afternoon, I had a chat with myself. I asked myself what it was that I really wanted?  As images of a grand home, loving partner and family, wealth and world travel fleeted through my mind, another set of images hung around persistently.  Images of homeless people, children dying from preventable diseases,  people living in stinking, putrid squalor and children and adults laboring long hours everyday and not always earning enough to feed themselves.

I asked myself if I felt guilty about wanting the things that I wanted and if having them would be denying those who didn't and couldn't.  No, I didn't feel guilty and no, I didn't believe that.

I asked myself if I still wanted what I'd previously identified I'd wanted as they appeared in those images. Yes, I did.  So why was I still feeling this unease? 

I realized then that more than what I'd wanted for myself, I wanted to share with those people what I knew and believed - that they could have a better life if only they'd believe it were possible.  I just wanted to share with them what I knew and believed, and, if they wanted it, I would help them in whatever way I could. 

My spirit lifted then upon this realization. It was the first time I'd fully articulated these vague feelings that had been prowling around my mind for what I now realized, had been years, in terms of their associated desires. This was perhaps the least  normal thing about my day.

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