“The more I love humanity in general the less I love man in particular. In my dreams, I often make plans for the service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually face crucifixion if it were suddenly necessary. Yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days together. … But it has always happened that the more I hate men individually the more I love humanity.”Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
I dream of being the spark that changes the world. The speaker that moves the masses. The writer that moves a nation. I love political discussion and the advancement of civil thought that fixes what is broken. The problem is that given limited resources energy put towards social justice and government policies replace our energies towards those directly in front of us.
I love public speaking and if I ever have the opportunity to speak in front of groups for the intent of specific, researched, thought out policy changes, then I will. However, day to day experience allows me far more time to care for a hurting friend, supply food for a homeless person, loan money to someone in need, buy gas for someone who has run out, help a young kid with homework, or even just smile at a stranger.
The more I see first hand the plight of the unfortunate, the bullied, the poor, fatherless, and widow the more I desire to see individual care and support. Do not stop voting for policy changes. Don’t stop making those around aware of evils. But, do not cease to be aware of the needs directly in front of you. If we vote in to provide more government support for the homeless, in whatever fashion that is, but do not stop to talk with them, feed them, cut their hair etc. then do we really care about them? Or do we just want to feel good about ‘making a difference’?
If I say I care about the cause of anti sex trafficking, but do not support and pressure my friends to cease viewing pornography that supports the evil institution, then I do not care about stopping sex trafficking. I care about policy. I must choose people over policy.
I had particularly good morning (which for me starts at 3 AM) made toasty by my overly affective heater and filled with contemplation on the way to work. I passed a billboard for the California Lotto. The stakes over 100 million dollars.
Later that evening, past my bed time of 7 PM I was on my way home from an event and decided to stop and buy two lotto tickets. I had debated whether or not to stop for about five minutes beforehand in my head. I needed to get to bed. I don’t plan on winning, but the excitement of waiting to see if any numbers line up is worth the occasional pocket change to me, and apparently losing a few minutes of sleep as well.
I had a nice interchange with the cashier who has worked at that particular corner store for close to 10 years or more. “I am paying my, ‘I am not good at math’ tax to the state.” I quipped and smiled. I returned to and started my car, my obnoxiously bright HID lights slowly warmed up. A young homeless looking couple was huddled between a Redbox and an ice machine and lifted up a cardboard sign to shield their eyes. The sign red, “Please help me shelter my wife”
I thought to myself, “I need to get to bed, I have to be up early and need to make sure I am awake as not to endanger my possible promotion. Besides, I don’t have cash on me.” The juxtaposition losing a few minutes of sleep and the last of my small change, and then justifying not helping based upon money and time horrified me—the whole way home.
It is choices like these that show me how far my frozen heart has fallen. I am thankful I even noticed, and noticing is the first step. But oh how many shattered pieces has my heart become? It is my goal to piece it back together broken shard by broken shard, and then to thaw it out.
But I am fighting the mental fight against something unreal. Television, Hollywood, the news, and a few unfortunate events have taught me, “why bother?” There are no guarantees that one, or many acts of kindness will make a difference. There is only a tiny flicker of a light holding on to, because it is right. I hope it warms up like the lights of my car, so it is something piercing and causes the pains of life to shield themselves.