Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Fire.

I'm not one to complain or point fingers and NOT offer a solution to the world's madness; so here it is:

As frustrating and as painful as inequality may be to recognize, it is the recognition that something needs to change which gives us the opportunity to make a difference. If you are sensitive to something, act on that feeling. Recognize that we are have various levels of awareness when it comes to social need- some gravitate toward justice, others to domestic violence, alcoholism, health care, homes, physical needs, spiritual needs, psychological needs, education...Then there are some who are completely unaware altogether.

We wonder why there's so much unhappiness in our world. What I find interesting is much of this unhappiness is expressed by those of us who have more than enough. While it's easy to look at those less fortunate and pity them or get angry for the inequality of the world, in speaking with people who have survived great hardship, you'll find that many of them are individuals built of incredible strength. I was shocked at how strong the women I met through the Violence Against Women Program at BYU were. These were no longer victims of domestic abuse or rape; they were survivors, and they were speaking out as a force to be reckoned with. These women were strong, they were safe now, and they were not about to let one more woman feel as trapped, insecure, afraid, or helpless in their presence. When asked about her experiences, one woman essentially said, "It has made me stronger, I am sad that it happened like this, but I know what I'm made of now." The bravery, strength and wisdom of these women was an inspiration to me and many others. They were courageous survivors, and they were taking their horrific experiences and using their recovery to help others by educating, speaking out, and living lives as survivors- not victims- thus helping other individuals experiencing the same kind of abuse to recognize that a life in fear was not the only outcome. These survivors serve as an example and inspiration to me and I thank them for their newfound confidence and strength.

When we were in
Africa, surrounded by disease and the inescapable weight of poverty, one thing became clear: As horrific as their circumstances were- AIDS, disease, pestilence, death, abandonment, children without parents or homes- the people we worked with and saw on the street found happiness. They found faith. They found joy in one another's success. It was overwhelming to realize that, as Carol said, “How is it that, in a place where they have nothing, everyone believes in God, but yet, in America, where we have everything, people question if God even exists?” I've been in a lot of impoverished countries, but what made Kenya so completely overwhelming was the realization that the culture itself was based on giving. If someone knew the alphabet, she was teaching it to anyone who would listen. If someone had a hut, that hut would inevitably hold as many street children as they could. We saw a people with nothing; they saw every thing they had as a gift they could share.

So where is my solution to the emptiness, the frustration, and the pain of this world? Part of the problem is we've developed into a society that is filled with "things." Even those who are "Christians" have fallen into the culture of consumerism and we've become distracted by things- objects designed to fulfill us and make us feel good. We've hazed into a culture that expects validation and acceptance through consumption of material goods or climbing a ladder to get a title, when really, everything we have to give is already within us. Being self-aware enough to find it through our sensitivities and then finding the inspiration to act on that awareness is a start. The more we give of ourselves, the more we realize that our experiences- even our pain- can make us stronger. Strong enough to help another in need. Recognize this and you will recognize that your life can make a difference- if you are brave enough to give of yourself.


linds said...

That is so cool that you were apart of Violence Against Women. I ran a 5K they sponsored at BYU. Such a great cause.

f*bomb. said...

Yeah! I was one of the founding members for the Women's Resource Center, and the program we began was SAVE: Students Against Violent Environments. Peer education has proven to be the most successful way of educating college-aged students on reducing the risk of rape and sexual assault. I was only 20 when we started working on all this- just goes to prove: you don't have to be big or have a lot of money to make a lasting difference.

bechtold clan said...

wonderful post.

Salt H2O said...

And this morning I thought I needed some more botox. I wonder how many stomachs the bocholism shot in my forehead could feed.

It's sad that it takes a disaster to give some perspective.

Tannerama said...

It's only after we lose everything that we realize we can do anything.

Lauren said...

You're right. I know you're right. I keep telling myself that as I scour the internet for info on the fate of my beloved condo from my friend's old couch (the third I've been on since I was evacuated); my eyes are burning from too much news and smoke. I know that I have fallen victim to the power of things. Of course I rationalize it. I've spent the past five years creating a sanctuary from the outside world. I claim that it's the symbolism of the things that I'll miss the most- my great-aunt's table, my grandmother's suitcase, my other grandmother's typewriter, the photos of the Temple to commemorate my first time through, the ruby bracelet my father gave me for senior prom night, but the condo itself is hard. I was so proud of myself for buying at the right time, all the mortgage payments I made on time, and all the great finds I'd hunted for throughout numerous countries and discount stores to make it just how I liked it. And when the various "he's" didn't call, or disappointments at work, I could repeat to myself the mantra that hey- I still had my condo. But after tonight, I may not. It's odd. I know I'm probably shallow, and that my mantras should've just been life affirming scripture, but there is something about objects that gives security. The Savior himself taught frequently with the tangible. I think that there is a reason why we have such beautiful Temples. I know that losing everything can release someone to greater things, and I know that things are just things, but I understand why we, as humans, are inclined to hold onto them. Because we can hold onto them. We try to make the intangibles tangible. I don't think that's bad. If mankind is both body and soul; it is tangible and intangible. I know that this wasn't exactly the point of your blog today, and I'm not trying to make excuses for the desire to hold onto things, and I'm definitely not trying to tout materialism/selfishness, but I don't think that the fire I'm watching is an answer (not that that is what you exactly said) and I hate to think that it takes losing everything to realize the potential we all have for good.

Sorry for such a long rant. I didn't sleep well last night. I actually do love your blog, Farrah, and hope you keep it up.

f*bomb. said...

O, Lauren, sweetie! Please don't feel shallow just because I have this transcendentalist attitude about how we should embrace life by living without the confines of materialism!

Sentiment and memorabilia is one thing: taking out a second mortgage to afford a lifestyle for the sake of appearances is quite another. Live on. And be safe. I am thankful you are, and I know that those who know you are praying for your safety as well.