Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fighting Feelings of Guilt While Showing Compassion for Our Global Sisters

A few weeks ago a woman approached me with an MSN article that literally sent chills down my spine. It's called 10 Worst Places in the World to Live if You're a Woman, and it's absolutely heartbreaking. It begins: "Violence, rape and little or no education is a fact of life for many women all over the globe. While the feminist movement took off in parts of the Western world, many women are still treated as second class citizens . . ." And that's not even the half of it. In a list containing hot-spots like Haiti, Darfur, and Iraq, it chronicles the types of horrors that many women have to go through on a daily basis.

Like so many young people out there, I'm stuck in a relatively quiet suburban town (it's not quite the cliche, white-picket-fence deal you see on TV, but you get what I mean) so I haven't seen or experienced very much in my lifetime. Heck, I'm a child of the 90's, I grew up on a steady diet of Nicktoons and Otter Pops, I have a comfortable bed, nice clothes, and more comic books than anyone really needs. My version of a bad day is getting a "B" on a Chemistry test, but besides that? I've got it pretty good.

As this article makes us painfully aware, millions of women are suffering grave injustices and fighting each and every day just to survive.

I don't quite know how to put my feelings into words, but when you hear about this kind of stuff, it's like . . . a horrified soberness.

I mean, do you ever feel guilty? Guilty for having nice things, for eating a good meal - for even laughing? I felt that way after my grandpa died. I can remember wanting to go out with my friends, watch a funny movie, read a good book, eat a piece of that oh-so-delicious-looking pie . . . but a little voice in my head would always jump in and torture me: "how can you even think about enjoying yourself at a time like this?"

By the same token, sometimes it's torturous just to enjoy life when you know people around the world are suffering. Is there any way to deal with this? I have a theory:

As feminists, humanists, and activists, I think it's important to express constant empathy for those who are less fortunate than ourselves. We should take every opportunity to volunteer, donate, and serve our Global Sisters (and Brothers!) - and never, ever forget to be thankful for the things (and people) we do have. I guess what I'm learning is, it's unhealthy to let guilty feelings consume you; after all, it's a fine line between "concern" and "obsession." If we can get into that healthy mind-state - that balance between being overly sensitive and not sensitive enough - I think we can do a heckuvalot more to help those in need.

So. Thinking beyond our own selfish existence here (and yes, I stole that line from Jeepers Creepers, one of the best horror movies of all time), what can we do to make a difference here and now? I've been told "not to expect to change the world," but all things considered, I think that's a pretty admirable goal.

If you want to get your philanthropic juices flowing, I'd suggest "You're the Voice" by one of my favorite bands EVER, the oh-so-lovely and fierce Heart:

1 comment:

  1. Reading this kind of thing really gives you a reality check - we're fighting for rights, which is important, but women in third-world countries fight for their lives and their health. Oy, we need to fix the world...


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