The trigger this past week has been Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it wreaked upon an unsuspecting public. Deaths, destruction, desolation. Every day it’s another heartbreaking story.
But like so many others, I am settled safely in the Midwest, far from the water and the grief. And that makes me feel like a slacker. I have sent money to help the victims, but I am employed full-time and have family and financial responsibilities, so I can’t go and help those in need. And even if I did go down to Houston, I am in no shape physically to help out.
This feeling of helplessness is the same feeling I got when Katrina hit. Or the Twin Towers. Massive devastation thousands of miles away from me. It’s almost surrealistic, because in all cases I have not known one person who was affected by these tragedies. I feel like I’m a cheater — reading the stories of the victims and the survivors, then turning around and making a grilled cheese sandwich like it’s nothing special. It is a shameful feeling.
Do you ever feel like you’re reading a fiction novel instead of really grasping the truth?
Yet around me are situations that can (and have) taken turns for the worse. Not only my cancer (which has not returned, thank goodness), but cancer in friends, triple bypass surgery, arthritis throughout one’s body, mothers and fathers and wives and husbands passing away, ill health and bankruptcy and all kinds of situations that hurt the heart as well as the body. Are these any more important than what is going on in Houston?
Are we any less of a feeling, emoting human being if we keep on working on our side of the window?
On the other end of the scale is the decadence of the wealthy. A world I cannot even imagine. Beyonce once spent $100,000 on a Balanciaga bra and leggings and $4 million for a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sports Car. The Beckams spent $240,000 on a nursery for their son, while Elton John bought the apartment next door for $2 million so his son could have a place to play in.
People are starving. People are dying. People’s homes have been washed away. Their children will have nightmares the rest of their lives. Yet there is a section of society that can buy a teacup sized Pomeranian for $10,000 (Paris Hilton) or a $250,000 bottle of champagne (JayZ) or a $2 million dollar bath tub (Mike Tyson).
What is wrong with the world?
I know I know — kings and queens and popes and oil monguls have been spending buko bucks for centuries while the poor ate potatoes and worse. There has never been a balance in the world’s economy. It’s just the nature of human beings.
I don’t know why I feel like I’m ignoring the woes of the world.
We are all caught in the middle, lost somewhere between tragedy and comedy. The only thing we can do is acknowledge where we are, what we have done, and be prepared to handle the best of times and the worst of times.