Sometimes, I'm into current events. When I began commuting during my student teaching, I fell in love with NPR on my car radio and never looked back. I'll admit that my listening dropped off some when Bush was elected because his pronunciation of the word, "America," particularly grated on my nerves. However, I held on and kept myself abreast of the news somewhat for my own sake, and somewhat for the sake of my students, especially my speech kids. However, my consumption of current events is entirely audial. Although I watched the television the morning of September 11, I did not turn it on again after that, so my memories and experiences are a little different from most Americans in that the iconic images are not etched into my brain. I can picture one or two terrible images that struck me so hard when I first saw them that I will never forget them, but the filter that chose those images for my memory was the random one of "breaking news." I know, though, that it is momumentally important that I do have those images in my head. That kind of destruction is literally impossible to imagine without visual aid. It is just like how I believe that it is essential to shows students pictures of the piles of possessions that Jews brought with them to the concentration camps to help them really ken, grok, personalize and empathize with the vastness of that atrocity.
However, since moving to Orcas, I have lived very insulated from the goings-on of the rest of the world. The mind-set that is a result of living detached from the world geographically very easily allows one to detache emotionally as well. Also, I came here to focus inward on my own healing. Another major cause of my hobbitting is that my car radio broke almost simultaneous to my arrival. Since watching TV news and reading the newspaper are totally outside of my preferences for experiences, I do not have a medium for the information to enter my sphere of attention. Big news, like the re-election of Bush or the New Year's day tsunami or the hurricane in New Orleans and some of it's aftermath filter through to me, though. And, on Wednesday night, I did watch some TV footage of the devastation in New Orleans because I was watching TV with Harreld, who grew up there and whose family is still there.
I have to admit, though, that as huge as the devastation is, I'm still not ready to personalize and empathize with the people who feel like their lives are ruined because of it. I'm not sure why that is, but I do know that the same feeling occurred with the tsunami. Every time new numbers of a death total were announced, I couldn't help but think that 24,000 people die of hunger every day, so more people will die every week of hunger than died in one disaster that captured our collective imagination and gave us the heebie-jeebies because no amount of being a good person or even a finacially successful person would keep us from being among that total if we were in the wrong place and the wrong time.
So, I guess I'm still detached. Some of that is a choice. I do spend much of my energy making choices and creating habits that contribute to the effort to make the world a better place, especially on a small, personal, community scale. If we believe, as Mother Theresa does, that "we can do no great things, only small things with great love," then I am not a monster for not grieving for New Orleans. Bad things happen to good people. I've come to terms with God on that account. He tells me to let Him deal with that unfairness and that I should focus on me not doing bad things to any people.
I did read a really well-written and insightful blog on the subject and I recommend taking a look at it. I'm not quite sure how to take you there directly to the entry but this will get you close. It is entitled "NO" and was written today, September 2, 2005.
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