Who are those who suffer?
I imagine that we all feel that we have been hard done by, unfairly or unjustly treated at some point or, probably, several points in our lives. Whether or not we have credence for our cries is always a matter opinion and reason generally dictates, a matter of more than one point of view. Some will have much more valid laments than others. But wherever it registers on the Richter scale of righteousness, it stings. Today, as the world hoots and hollers about aggressive posturing that may or may not lead to a fearful battle, I ask you to think about those who really do, inarguably have it tough. Be it because they live in a warzone, because they are born into poverty in a place that has no opportunity for education and a free ride out or because they have been born in the wrong body by dint of their sex or sexuality, their race or their ability to use that body freely and efficiently without assistance, or simply that the body is worn out by so many years of use. Those. They are all around you if you look. Who are they? They are you but for the grace of that accident of birth that gave you a better chance. I am prompted to this by my savvy linguist friend at Zipfs Law who is currently in Guatemala interpreting (as he has every year of the last five) for Surgicorps International. He does it because he can. It’s as simple as that. I was moved to give a little to help. Really it was a very little. This is what he wrote to me:
“Osyth, thank you so much. Your donation pays for a complete surgical pack. To give you an idea of some of the surgeries that we did yesterday: reconstruction of a hand for a teenager who I’ve seen every one of the five years that I’ve been coming here, as it’s a complicated surgery that has to be done in stages; removal of a mass on the right wrist of a woman whose job involves writing with a pen all day, and who therefore was losing the ability to support herself in a country in which there is no such thing as unemployment insurance, or disability support for people who can’t work; repair of a cleft lip for a kid who otherwise would have been unlikely to find a spouse, in a country in which your only social support net is your family… Your support is really making a contribution to these people’s lives.”
Levelling. Horribly levelling. If Guatemala seems a long way away I can guarantee you there is someone right under your nose who could do with your kindness. Give it a go, for Blanche Dubois was not alone in her reliance on the kindness of strangers. Pablo Neruda, champion of Chile wrote reams and reams and dazzling reams on the plight and struggle of his own people. The woeful disgrace is that these decades later, it applies to so many in this ever-smaller earth place of ours. I give you Neruda’s ‘Mountain and River’ to take to your heart and ponder who might benefit from your act of kindess today. My pledge to Neruda many moons ago, when I first read this poem and imagined myself his little red grain of wheat, was that I would accept his eloquent, searing call to arms. So long as I draw breath I will keep that promise;
The Mountain And The River
In my country there is a mountain.
In my country there is a river.
Come with me.
Night climbs up to the mountain.
Hunger goes down to the river.
Come with me.
Who are those who suffer?
I do not know, but they are my people.
Come with me.
I do not know but they call to me
And they say to me: “We suffer.”
Come with me.
And they say to me: “Your people,
your luckless people,
between the mountain and the river,
with hunger and grief,
they do not want to struggle alone,
they are waiting for you, friend.”
Oh you, the one I love,
little one, red grain
the struggle will be hard,
life will be hard,
but you will come with me.
PS: The picture, captured by HB² (my husband, if you are wondering) in the Atacama Desert of Chile responds to the wordpress challenge titled ‘Elemental’ and, as ever, you can see the glorious gallery of interpretations of others here.
And here, because it would be rude to resist her, is Blanche:
What a moving and emotive post. It’s wonderful to remind everyone of what is truly important when we all get caught up in our own dramas.
Thank you so much – it is very kind of you to take time to read and comment. I think it’s something we all need reminding of from time to time. Life has a way of blinkering us, I think.
Yes, absolutely. We get trapped /caught in our own life nets and are too constricted to see the world around us.
My pleasure 😊
Such a wonderful article that I haven’t ever seen. I would like to recommend others to motivate yourself for writing such kind of article you all are welcome to my blog site.. https://banglagolpo9.blogspot.com
Thank you HopeBD that is most kind …. I will hop over and take a look at your blog site. Anyone who encourages Human Kindness should be celebrated 🙂
A lovely piece. Thank you for writing it–and for your generous donation.
I hoped it would touch a few. As your writing of your experiences in Guatemala inspired me.
Fiona, this was a perfectly lovely post, which it is very hard to think of my not being here for quite some time. I really searched through all the responses to not find my own thoughts. Mainly, when I approached the post, I was so overwhelmed at how you carry the world on you heart (and shoulders) feeling, truly caring how it is going. I am very sorry, at one point in August I read this. . . But I must have become sidetracked. My only thought to explain my absence.
Then and now, I also am empathetic of others right near me. A young woman who I work with has bright magenta hair with pink highlights. She had to face going home to another state, her younger brother’s suicide. This was August, I held her in our warehouse, then walked slowly out of the building with her. Forgot to have us clock out. I wished I could drive with her. I took her to my car and said I have an emergency $20 in my glove box, for flat tires. It was all I could give at the time. She sobbed, I sobbed. As she drove away I almost didn’t want to work. It makes you feel so helpless. But as you said, our gifts are sometimes the “bit” we can do, enough for the moment.
Kindness is the tenuous thread we can throw out into the wind, hoping to catch and save another’s life. Love you. Love this honest blog. Thank you, my sweet friend. ❤
Do NOT apologise. I know how busy you are. Your comment has touched me deeply. I am so so sorry for your colleagues loss. Suicide is terribly hard to reconcile. Her brother will be a wrenching loss for her. What you did for her was quite lovely. You did what you could. No-one can ask more. You are a good and kind and generous soul. And I am honoured to call you my friend ❤️
Wonderful writeup 👏
Thank you Sulamain, it is most kind of you to take the time to read and comment 🙂
It’s my pleasure 🙂
Such a beautiful punch to the gut, Osyth. Even when we can’t make BIG contributions like the philanthropists, and even when we don’t do “all” we can do, whatever little bit we can and do offer is so much better than nothing at all. Some give money, others time, many BOTH.
And then there are those who stand back or look away.
Articles like this one gently encourage those in the wings to step into the light of change onstage, each little step inching our world closer to a place that feels like home to ALL of us. Thank you.
(Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
“It takes a village to transform a world!
Thank you Madelyn … there are so many who do and so many who don’t. But we all can, if we will. And the rewards of being kind (as old Ebenezer himself discovered in Dickens’ masterly ‘A Christmas Carol’) actually far outweigh deeds many times – a win, win in fact xx
Ah yes, Osyth, we can each ALWAYS choose to be kind, and that alone can make such a difference.