We must be there
Side by SideEver try to tell something, see that no one's getting it, and end lamely with, "You had to be there"? That's what it's like to recount today's news to the weary world. Since 9/11, catastrophe is the norm, so much so that unless we are "there," the effort to keep up is almost too much. Ignorance, however, is not only selfish but also dangerous.
Published: June 17, 2010
Published: June 17, 2010
Like Drew Barrymore's character, Lucy Whitmore, in the 2004 movie, "50 First Dates," many are physically alive today but mentally stuck in yesterday. As a result of a car accident, each day's events disappear overnight from Lucy's memory. Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) loves her enough to begin every day bringing Lucy back into the now.
Love may not be the media's impetus. Regardless, love for our children, nation, and world, demands participation, not denial. Less than that means a doomed future.
A June 13 Tampa Tribune caption read: "Krygyzstan Swept By Ethnic Rioting." Most are uninterested in an unpronounceable, unknown country, unless a beauty's sad face caught a reader's attention. She holds a baby, other women and children on the ground around her, minority Uzbeks whom the majority Kyrgyz want dead.
Unable to forget the woman, the reader finds Krygyzstan in an atlas to see why it is a crucial U.S. supply hub to Afghanistan. Logistics and ethnicity imply that Russia should help these people, but the Kremlin refuses. Meanwhile, "crowds of frightened women and children make flimsy bridges from planks and ladders to cross ditches." The article says Kyrgyzstan's interim government may ask the U.S. for help. The reader, still riveted to the woman's face, cringes, wondering about sending our young troops to these foreign lands. Yet, "there" could be "here"; she could be this woman.
We everyday citizens, hardworking, neither rich nor famous, not privy to behind-the-scenes' big business and government actions, cannot know all the in's-and-out's of decision making relating to wars, terrorism, the economy, political candidates, religious hierarchies, health reform, or even our own local issues. But, history bears out, if radical elements break forth to kill, steal, and destroy, we will be those who suffer first and most.
Some find the news "too upsetting." To insulate her, Lucy's father and brother reenacted the same day every day. Henry knew Lucy's lock-in meant death. Kyrgyzstan's next-day update reported 104 killed, 1,231 wounded, "mostly elderly people, women, and children," adding "the true toll may be much higher." What can we do?
We cannot be everywhere and know everything, but we can be somewhere and know something. Studies show 93 percent of Americans believe in God. A move is afoot to merge prayer into a person's medical treatment. "If it helps, it can't hurt," says Dr. Harold Koenig, director of the Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health at Duke University. Studies prove prayer de-stresses and reduces health care costs.
We have reduced our most powerful way of being "there" to: "All we can do is pray." To know about and pray is to be there for that Kyrgyzstan woman. To get it, "you had to be there." We can be informed and "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.