I remember that we had Channel One in high school. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it was (and possibly still is?) a news program delivered by young adults to kids in school.
I remember sitting in home room trying to pay attention as Lisa Ling reported on events in Kosovo and in troubled spots around the world. I desperately wanted to care… but I didn’t.
I remember the election of 2000. It was the first presidential election I voted in. I woke up early and headed over to the local public high school to cast my vote. I voted on one issue because it was all I knew. I didn’t know the differences between the parties. I didn’t know anything about the candidates or their character or history or stances or values. I wanted to care about all of that stuff…but I didn’t.
These days I sit in my car and I listen to news reports. I read news stories. I discuss. I debate. I so desperately want to care less… but I can’t.
Gone are the days I can view the world at a distance. Gone are the days I can securely label the world as Us and Them. Gone are the days when I can believe that half a world away means all the world.
I’m fortunate. I don’t currently know anyone in the military. We’re not immigrants. We don’t rely on government programs for assistance. I don’t have relatives in far off lands. We are your Standard Everyday Suburban American Family. We live in that little bubble where we are able to shut out the world… the needy, the war torn, the lost, the forsaken. But we don’t.
Because to me, all of that means more than ever.
Decisions to cut Medicaid mean children don’t get very real medical care for very real illness. Changes to food stamps and cash assistance takes money out of other family’s hands who are so similar to us except for the fact that their pay checks weigh less than ours does. There are people with very real needs that will be met or not at least in part based upon who I and people like me vote into office.
Tonight I will lay my babies down to sleep and I will pray over their little heads for a night of safety and security. And thousands of miles away, deep within a desert, another mom will say the same prayer to a different god in a different tongue with the same heart wrenching sincerity.
And the decisions we make will affect whether or not her prayers are answered. Our decisions affect the safety and sustenance of so many around the corner and around the world.
I want to close my doors. I want to turn out my lights and believe in a world where all can rest in peaceful slumber. But I can’t. Because they won’t.
I don’t propose to know all the answers to all the questions. I can barely wade my way through some answers to some questions.
But I listen. I learn. I pray.
And I so desperately want to stop caring. Stop hoping. Stop hurting.
But I can’t. And I won’t. Because we matter. More so than many may believe.