Have you seen the pictures coming out of Somalia and the refugee camps in Kenya? They are almost too much to bear but I keep looking, each photograph stunning me anew. Tom doesn't understand me- he refuses to look, always asking why I do. To avoid them, I feel, is a cop-out of sorts, and I mean no disrespect there. For sure they are incredibly painful, surreal in a way, surreal because they are so very real. They are humbling, shaming in a way. I, who am so terribly fortunate, spend time vexed about what to eat, what to cook, which mozzarella is the best, why did the market not have mustard seeds. My children have no idea what it is to be truly hungry, to be insecure in every way (not that I would ever want either for them), to not have their every need met. T spent the morning focused on his improving latte art. The juxtaposition of our lives, of the lives of most people we know, with those of the countless numbers of people around the world struggling for their very survival is almost too much to take in, to process. It's enough to make your head feel like it might blow. How do I balance my desperate desire to do something, anything for the children starving to death? for the parents who must bury their own children, digging their graves, saying goodbye entirely too prematurely? with the need to stay present for my own family, to appreciate concretely all that we have? It does no good to ignore either, to subordinate one to the other. I cannot fathom the pain -emotional and physical- they must be in, but my heart hurts. I feel it acutely. So I feel I must balance this all: hug my kids tight, teach them to appreciate how fortunate we are, teach them that they must give back to the world. My life is what it is; I've worked hard, and I don't feel it does any good to wallow in guilt about how lucky I am, but rather to use that awareness to do what good I can and to help guide my family to do the same.
I think that's the essence of why I can never turn away from pictures like these despite the fact that they bring me to my knees. They're a reminder to appreciate all with which I've been blessed, feel immense gratitude for the folks in the field trying to help and save as many people as possible, and do what I can to give back.