Saturday, June 23, 2018

Defend Who?

     The world is a very confusing place to me. The truly surprising thing about this situation is that I really believed that by now, it would not be. In my younger days I thought surely that by the time I reached a certain age I would have figured out how the world worked, what the right thing to do would be in any given situation, and how to easily tell right from wrong.
     Really, the only thing I know for sure, is just how much I really don't know or understand about anything; from laws, to politics, to psychology, to technology, and on down to what motivates people at an individual level.
     I know I often simplify situations and problems because they seem so basic to me. It seems to me that a society's lasting strength depends on their ability to defend/support/protect the most  vulnerable among them, whether that is children, the mentally or physically ill, the poor, the hungry, the lonely, or those that are afraid-for whatever reason.
     If I happen to express dismay about a situation where it seems to me that some children are being traumatized or frightened. I indicate I think that if that is true, it needs to stop. All I am saying is that if children are being hurt, it needs to stop. It seems simple. It seems like something we could all easily agree on.
     People counter with-what about this other group of folks that are being hurt? Well, that is true. I am appalled by that as well, but it wasn't what I was talking about at this time. 
     Others counter with, well, someone else started this issue years ago. Okay, that may be so. I was unaware of it then. I think one whole point of life is-we are always to try to do the best we can with the knowledge we have. I can agree, maybe I was unaware of an issue in the past. That really doesn't mean I should not speak up about it now.
     If I took that approach, say, at an individual level, it would be as if I knew a child down the street from me was being abused because I suddenly saw the physical evidence when they walked by my house to catch the bus. I might be horrified and say to my neighbor, did you see that child with the bruises, we need to call protective services. And what if the neighbor then countered, oh, this has happened for years. Why didn't you report it years ago? What would be the point now? Well, I was unaware of the past issue. Now that I know, I need to do something. It seems really basic
     But what? What can I do? I am one person. How can I have a positive impact on others? I really don't come in to contact with very many people. What can I do? I can sign a petition. I can go to a protest. I can volunteer for groups that help children that have been endangered. I can donate money to help these groups.
     I can also make an effort to remember what it is like to be in a certain situation, such as being a small child that is afraid, and share that with others. This is one way I can work at better developing a sense of empathy for those that are vulnerable.
     I remember when I was around 3 I got lost in a local grocery store. I had already had a bad few days. My dad had been in the hospital. His appendix burst and he had emergency surgery. I stayed with relatives that loved me dearly-from grandparents, to aunts and cousins. I was perfectly safe, and yet I cried for hours and hours each day. There was no consoling me. I only wanted my parents. 
     Finally, the day came when my dad was coming home. He still could not carry me, but he could walk just fine. We stopped off at the grocery store on our way home. I walked in with my parents. They didn't notice when I strayed away from them and stopped at a drinking fountain to get some water. They were probably only two aisles away, but when I couldn't find them, the wails were ear splitting. This was 40+ years ago and I can still see every detail, from my white jacket with blue trim, the strands of hair hanging in my face as I sobbed, the nice lady with the net scarf on her hair asking me if I was lost, the bright fluorescent lights, and my complete feeling of terror. I was in a safe place, really not far from my parents, and I can still remember how I felt in that moment. 
     Minutes later I was reunited with my parents and my tears were dried as I was advised to stay close to them and ask for help if I needed a drink, to not just wander away on my own. When I was "lost" the reaction of other people around me was quick, and I was safely returned to my parents in moments.
     I hope that whatever situations I come across, that if I find someone that is vulnerable, that I will work quickly to aid them in a positive way, whatever that way may be. I hope that if I stick with that as my personal policy, maybe life will not seem as overwhelming as it still seems to me, even at my great age.