07 September 2013
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
The world is burning as we sleep, quakes with gunfire and grenades as we sip our tea. Cobwebs like gossamer garlands dangle from the points of the porch roof and drape down into the hedged and hemmed shrubbery, suburbia’s coat of arms. Feet peppered with the earth, I put Stan Getz on the stereo. Good music makes me feel as my soul has flown straight out of my skeleton, vamoose like a cut balloon, floating on the sensuous notes of euphoria.
In some lands, air raids and bombs sing children to sleep, here, it is the chirping lullabies of crickets and cicadas, half moons of tar black soil under my fingernails from planting, instead of the scarlet curls of blood on corpses. How can we live on this earth and not care for our fellow human beings?
They tell me to care less, it’s okay, just be kind to the people you meet and don’t fret about the screams of people dying over distant seas. I feel slighted. I feel my shoulders slump. They don’t get it, do they? Doesn’t anybody understand? I ramble around these neighborhoods, sidewalks jutting into the impossible green of lawns, the stripes of faded American flags bending to kiss the stars, and I see power. Even where the walkways are rough hewn, and rusting junk suffocates every living thing beneath it, I see possibility.
We’ve made a grave mistake. Somewhere along the way, there’s been a tremendous miscalculation. We’ve added it up that the engraved paper that lines our banks is greater than human lives, and we’ve been taken for fools, falling for the charade that we are helpless, possums playing dead when we see the bloated bellies of malnourishment, the muddy tears of a refugee. But we are not dead, nor are we helpless.
We shuffle from buses and cars, to classrooms and cubicles, from bright florescent lights to night clubs. Public spaces are filled with the emptiness of people who cannot lift their eyes from the screen that connects them to everything but the people in front of them. We are powerful beings, yet we believe the lies they tell us, that we should just be cogs in this machine that lumbers on with no regard for humanity, that we should close our eyes and turn around, like a child chosen to be “it” in a game of hide and seek.
We’ve hung hopes on governments, but they’d rather fund wars than feed the hungry, invest in the of festering of wounds than be a healing salve to the hurting. The cost shelled out for arms and killing alone could obliterate poverty around the world, instead it deepens a mass grave for the ones it is burying alive; the chasm between the rich and the poor ripping apart what should be a woven tapestry of hands united. Our lives are privileged because others have been pushed into the jaws of a beast, their lives and well being the offering on the altar so our comfortable lives can get a little more comfortable.
The government isn’t the solution, we are. We’ve got to lace up our boots and get down in the trenches of the greater good, we’ve got to be willing to get dirty and sacrifice. This is no day and time to be sleeping, not with the world burning and the ashes of woman, child, and man, a black rain on cities blown into oblivion, erasing faces and leaving only names soon to be forgotten or never remembered.
I am wide awake. I hear them calling, and they’re calling me, they’re calling anyone who will listen, they’re calling any willing soul, to do something, and I am not afraid. I am not afraid to walk in the shoes of the suffering, not afraid to suffer. I only fear a life that is lukewarm, a life that is nice, if not indifferent, and nothing more.
I seek a life ignited, to shed this selfish skin and say to the world in need, “Here I am. I am willing.”
P.S. I have entered a contest that will allow me to travel the world and give back more than ever. Will you please take a moment and vote for me, by clicking the "like" next to my name, if you think I’m deserving? You can vote once every 24 hours, and voting ends October 1st. I appreciate each and every vote, thank you so much to those who have taken a moment to do so!
Photos by Joe Nigel Coleman. You can also find him on Flickr and Facebook.