I know that I haven’t been very good about blogging lately…and by that I mean I haven’t blogged at all. I’ve tried to get back into it so many times, but I found myself hitting a wall on each and every attempt. Honestly – I wasn’t sure what I had to say, if I had anything at all. Thoughts and feelings rolled around in my head, but I couldn’t distinguish between those worth sharing and those needing further development. Nothing felt fully formed, and there were (and still are) so many things in my life that I felt unsure of. Potential blog topics were spun sugar, easily crumbling and dissolving under the heavy weight of day to day monotony, indecisiveness, and doubt. However, as the weight of the last few days began to sink in, as the stress of a seemingly burning world began to make a nest between my shoulder blades and burrow into my temples in earnest, I decided to post the following on Facebook….
As my news feed fills up with sympathy for those affected in Paris, grief over life lost, and solidarity with France, my heart is warmed by the common humanity I’m witnessing. At the same time, the world’s response to the near-simultaneous twin bombings in Beirut, Lebanon stands in sharp contrast…..silence. apathy. fringe media coverage at best.
IS suicide bombers set of blasts in the capital of Lebanon killing over 40 and wounding over 100 in the worst terror attack Lebanon has seen in years. And the world is relatively silent. We certainly aren’t putting the colors of Lebanon’s flag up on the Empire State Building for all to see.
Is it because we have come to expect greater violence in certain parts of the world? Or do we find some types of violence more acceptable than others? Do we have a harder time sympathizing with the Lebanese or do we in some twisted way blame them for their own tragedy?Why are some tragedies worth our tears and heartache while we allow others to simply brush brusquely past?
Maybe it’s just that we are tired. I know I am. Tired of contemplating a world that constantly feels on the edge of catastrophe. Tired of summoning up compassion, empathy, and outrage over hateful incidents that seem never-ending.
But at the very least, I think it’s important that we confront the biases of our own hearts – identify how we sift through the tragedies of our present world and decide which are most deserving of our shock and lamentation.
I’m a firm believer that it is only when all lives matter equally, when some deaths aren’t more or less acceptable than others, that our world will truly know peace.
The post was written in less than a minute and barely edited. It was simply word vomit, shards of emotional glass that I desperately needed to tug out of my heart so I could stop the bleeding, but people responded. They liked, shared, commented, and messaged me personally expressing similar feelings and thanking me for putting words to their hearts’ wandering. I was surprised by how comforted people seemed to be by the words, and I immediately thought, with a fair portion of guilt, about my empty blog.
I also thought about rust.
I had abandoned my blog almost a year ago when things in my life started to get muddy – when I could no longer tell for sure what I wanted from my career and my support system felt oh so far away. It was a time when I felt my energy would be better spent pursuing clarity and survival in my day to day. I could always come back to it, right? The thing is, while my blog sat lonely, my writing skills weren’t the only things that rusted…..the machinery of my life that had once been able to ingest tragedy, heartbreak, and injustice and spit back hope, meaning, and resilience now gathered dust. Guts rusted and hollowed out and gears lost their grip. I, for a moment, lost sight.
Rust can gather in the most unexpected places. When I let my writing get rusty, I also inadvertently allowed my heart to do the same. Wrapped up in my own struggles, the mechanism of my heart struggled to cope with the big picture. Most interesting is that I haven’t just struggled to cope with recent tragedies. I’ve also struggled to empathize. As frightening as recent attacks are, I was more frightened by my sudden impulse to stick my head in the sand. Rust. Growing slowly more disengaged from any struggles beyond my own, I stopped writing. For a brief moment I stopped planning and dreaming and setting goals, and I let the heart that always beat for the world grow sluggish and rusty in the grips of selfish concerns.
The recent attacks shocked me out of my reverie. They were an abrupt strike against normalcy that jarred the rust off both my heart and my pen, and so here I am. Trying to convince you that the pain of love and engagement will always be better than the numbness of a rusty humanity. Engaging in a world that consistently lets you down is difficult. Emerging from the muck of your own worries and stresses to care about the suffering of others is hard work. But I hope you believe me when I say it’s worth it, and caring for the innocent victims of the Paris attacks is only the first step. Some would try to convince you that lives lost in Lebanon, Burundi, Palestine, and even our own back yards are acceptably dismissed as ” just the way of the world.” I know from personal experience that this is a lie, sold to us in moments of world-weariness and compassion fatigue.
The world, like real and honest love, is both painful and beautiful. That is no excuse to mourn selectively or ignore death and violence when it occurs in places we deem expendable. Ugliness is no excuse to bury our heads in the sand. We must stand up and demand peace. We must collectively decide to fight for peace everywhere and compassion for all or we run the risk of chaos and peril in all corners.