In this world of instant information, being an empath can be a challenge. People like myself sometimes physically feel, or close to it, the emotional impact of what happens to others.
Acts of violence and atrocity that I read about can make me want to weep. It makes one like me feel frustrated helplessness. Every time I hear how people fear, hate, every time I hear, or read about people who have such little disregard for humanity of others I want to somehow wade in and fix it, But I can’t.
If I could, I’d take every refugee, every victim, every sick, lost and abandoned soul home with me. But I can’t.
If I could, I’d turn every fist, every gun, every bomb into bread, butterflies and flower gardens.
If I could, I’d take every hate filled, greed and power hungry cleric, pundit and politician and make them hold hands until they learned to be nice to each other and to us. But I can’t.
So what can I do? I’m just one ordinary woman, a single person in a vast ocean of humanity. I can’t stop terrorism, or convince politicians and pundits to listen to the people and really work to make our world better. I can’t tell people and businesses to stop turning our planet into something that even planet destroying aliens would pass by as a project not worth bothering with. I cant reach out across an ocean and dry the tears of a person who’s life has been torn apart by war, or help bury their children, or even ensure they have safe place to lay their head tonight. I can’t even fix the many heartbreaking problems that are all over my own community.
What frustrates me even further is those who see our helplessness, and our tiny attempts to let others know we care, and scoff at our attempts as inept and ineffective. While technically they are correct, they are also quite incorrect. While changing a profile photo to the flag of a nation who’s just suffered a tragedy or a symbol to commemorate support for a disease, or other symbolic imagery, is small, it has a way of letting others know that we do care and are at least trying to understand. Our scoffers are just as frustrated as we are, but they prefer mocking our tiny attempts, demanding instead that we do the impossible, fix the big ones.
I want to be a pebble. My tiny drop in the ocean of humanity rippling out, meeting other the ripples of other pebbles, who meet other’s ripples. I want us to all be pebbles. I want our tiny ripples to be the mundane, but still monumental actions of making someone smile or laugh, or helping a beleaguered mom with two kids and her elderly father, load groceries into the car at Walmart, or by buying a coworker lunch even though they brought their own, by giving blood, giving clothes I don’t wear away, buying a package of socks and giving it to the local soup kitchen.
Yes they are tiny acts, those little waves of caring, but when one act prompts another, and then another, and then even another, the potential…oh, the potential is limitless.
It truly bothers me when people complain about something like changing a profile photo as a sign of solidarity with those who are suffering. It saddens me when they want to deny those who are in need. By saying no, by being willing to turn people away, or blame them for their plight, and then turning around and trying to ridicule us for caring.
They don’t want to be pebbles, thinking such a thing beneath them. They are denying the impact of the pebble, seeing it as insignificant ripples while standing on the shore. They fail to see how far one ripple can carry, or that it always returns to us, acting as a gentle kiss of reminder of why we threw ourselves in.
For those of you who don’t want to do the insignificant. I understand. It may be just that, insignificant. But I also know one ripple, or one attempt to reach out to help another can carry further than any of us could ever imagine. So I’ll continue to toss myself in that ocean, while hoping someone’s ripples, maybe even mine, will soon reach your toes.