The valley has been filled with smoke, the cars covered in ash. Our mountains are lit with fire.
But, this morning I awoke to cool rain. I pray it continues. I pray these fires are put out.
There are fires though I’d like to see lit. Like a hot, passionate fire of compassion.
As soon as it became evident R was not coming back…as soon as it became evident I could not find work… as my family began dying off…people began to come forward to bring me comfort. I could not have survived without it. I’ll say that again; I could NOT have SURVIVED without it. Whether it was tangible and touchable, like food, wood, money to pay bills, or soft and invisible, like an early morning visit over coffee, I desperately needed those comforts brought to me. At even a hint of the possibility of help, I ran headlong into the arms of my rescuers.
Most of them were sincere. Most were genuine. But, from day one, in every phase of our grief, there have been those who discounted me while feigning comfort. Some seem to actually enjoy the superior position, as though my life circumstances make them better than me. They’re like a benevolent little god in their own eyes answering my prayers. Some take advantage of my weakness and vulnerability by saying rude things that they would never say to someone stronger, someone they met elsewhere. Some seem to enjoy basking in the glory and notoriety of helping these poor souls. Some extend the gift in their hand while suspiciously eyeing me, judging my intelligence and character. Why else would I have ended up here? It is quite obvious to them I need someone to do my thinking for me. And, those are usually the ones who disregard my right to privacy.
These all brought discount comfort. They brought a measure of comfort, but they discounted me as a human being.
A man died last week after wandering in front of a Tram. An eyewitness said the man seemed disoriented and confused preceding the accident. But, the trolls lit up the comment section of the news feed saying he deserves to die for being so stupid as to walk in front of a slow moving Tram. There was no compassion for a man who lost his life. His life was discounted.
Robin Williams died this week and, while there are still trolls using their keyboards for cruelty, the majority of what I see online is compassion. Sorrow over his sorrow that brought him to take his own life. Comfort for his family. He has been deemed by the majority to be worthy. His life counted.
My posts on Facebook regarding the Middle East go largely ignored. Two friends echoed my sentiments on their pages, and I was eager to say, “Yes! Yes! I feel the same way!” Immediately, our thoughts and concerns were discounted. One individual turned the entire thread into a rant about her own family’s history of suffering. Apparently she only has so much compassion. She already doled it out to her deceased people so has none left to feel for those families dying today.
The kinder, gentler comments drip with lame consolations. “Those babies are in a better place.” “They’re not suffering now.” “They’re with Jesus. Their attackers are going to burn in hell.” No doubt those children are receiving comfort from Christ Himself today in glory, but they deserved a chance to live out their natural lives. They deserved to die with dignity, not raped, butchered, and then publicly displayed. Those poor attempts at justifying their own complacency discount those slaughtered children! And, I guarantee they would not flippantly say, “She’s in a better place,” if it were their child’s head on a stake!
Everyone is the star of their own reality show on Facebook. Blogging is a lot like that, too. All of us amateur, wannabe writers can pretend someone is listening, someone actually cares about our opinion on the Middle East, biblical submission, or home decorating. We’re a culture of narcissists. We breed narcissism as though we could sell it commercially for a profit. And, that’s how we easily discount suffering people.
How can this benefit me? Can I use them to satisfy some unmet need in myself? This person’s death matters because they touched my life and made me laugh. That person is nothing more to me than a picture on a screen; therefore, I don’t care.
I couldn’t sleep again last night, and I woke up crying. I am spiritually tortured knowing that while I’m curled up on my feather bed, lying there in fleece pajama shorts with my arms around my own sweet daughter, someone else’s daughter is being butchered. I’m angry that the only daily difficulties I’m facing in life right now are because someone else has deemed me worthy of being deceived, exposed, and talked down to. I’m sick of seeing human life discounted, and I’m shocked that our culture has degenerated to such a point that we’ve lost our basic human compassion and the desire to bring comfort to those in pain.
I shouldn’t be shocked
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof……
2 Timothy 3:1a
This rampant narcissism, pride, lack of compassion, false judgment, and brutality were foretold. Still, this morning, as I sit on my black iron chair on my porch, still in my soft fleece pajamas, sipping warm coffee, listening to the rain softly landing on the metal roof, I am grieved by it. My heart is heavy and broken for the multitudes who suffer at the butt end of man’s condition. And, I beg you, plead with you, offer genuine compassion wherever you can today. Don’t discount anyone’s life.