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: