Some times I just want to crawl into a cave or a bubble or a deep hole.
It’s all just too much.
But caves and bubbles and holes aren’t really all that practical. So I just turn off the television or shut down the computer.
As I am asking my pre-kindergartener what kind of backpack he wants, a father who is a member of the Islamic State (or ISIS) in Iraq or Syria, is asking his son, who isn’t much older than mine, if he’d rather be a jihadist or carry out a suicide operation. Girls there are being raped or killed or forced into Islamic marriages.
As I walk through downtown Mobile, I may see a few abandoned buildings and complain about those. People walking through the streets of downtown Raqqa are literally dodging the severed heads of “infidels” that are rolling around on the ground. At least the ones they didn’t jab onto the tops of metal fence posts.
Over 200 girls in Nigeria were kidnapped from their school for simply trying to get an education. The group responsible for their abduction is now reportedly auctioning them off for $12 a piece to be the “wives” of their militants.
As I am trying to plan one last trip to the beach with my children, a Palestinian mother is finding her kids dead on the sands of another. While teenagers are learning to drive in this country, those in Israel are being abducted and killed; their bodies thrown in a field.
In parts of Ukraine, Russian-backed rebels are trying to shoot so many aircraft out of the sky, they “accidentally” took a commercial jetliner down, with entire families on vacation and babies and college kids and some of the world’s most renowned AIDS researchers.
How can we live in a world where these things are even possible? Historians would remind us such barbarism and is nothing new. In addition to the countries I mentioned above, the Holocaust in Germany and mass genocide in Rwanda immediately come to mind. But with today’s technology and connectivity, we definitely see more of these atrocities with our own eyes – a fact I am sure is well recognized and exploited by these groups.
I won’t even pretend to act like I understand all of the intricacies of the centuries-old conflicts that take part in these parts of the world. All I get is just how ugly and tragic it is to see all of this bloodshed. And how helpless I feel to do anything to change it.
It’s so easy for us to look the other way. It’s so far away. The people suffering are so different from us and speak languages and engage in cultural practices we don’t understand. Why should we care? Why can’t they just take care of their folk and we take care of ours? What can we really do anyway? Don’t they hate us when we get involved?
In my own life, all too often I get consumed with such “atrocities” as having to go buy school supplies, never being able to get all the laundry done, needing to bathe the dog again, trying to get the office moved and unpacked, the eldest registered for soccer and the youngest potty trained, having to go to the grocery store to get milk … again, deadlines every Tuesday, trying to be a good mother, wife, publisher, co-worker and friend and never feeling like I’m doing a good job at any of these roles.
I was “worried” about which teachers my kids would get at preschool and daycare. Parents in those faraway lands just hope they won’t get blown to bits on the way. How lucky we are and often times we don’t even realize it.
I said earlier I wanted to crawl into a bubble, but really I have already been living in one for far too long.
Many of us have – it’s just too heartbreaking to step outside of it and to think about what is happening all over this crazy world we live in. And again, feeling so helpless to do anything about it.
I didn’t even realize I had been living in said bubble until the other night. I had the evening news on and my almost 5-year-old, who I didn’t really even think was paying attention to it as he was playing with his Legos, said in a very concerned and raised voice, “Did you hear that Mommy? They said a ‘mosh’ was blown up. Why?”
He doesn’t even know what a mosque is, but he was so generally concerned about it. And I had heard it, but I hear such awful things so often, it didn’t even really register. I had sadly become numb to it.
My immediate instinct was to change the channel to cartoons and to make up some fake story about what happened to this “mosh” and get him back to worrying about all the ailments Doc McStuffins’ toys always seem to have. (Disney Jr. TV show reference for those of you who don’t have preschoolers.)
I think he needs to be sheltered from these things for a little while longer, though not forever. So I put him back in his room — a safe place where the only soldiers he had to deal with were small green plastic ones; the only guns to “fear” were made by Nerf and swords to worry about were those of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
I was happy to put him back in his “bubble,” but grateful he brought me out of mine.
The last couple of days I have spent reading up on these various conflicts and wars and atrocities, and I do feel I have somewhat of a better understanding of things that are really hard to well, understand. But I am still asking the question — so now what do I do? I just don’t know the answer.