You sift through all the messages alerting you your help is desperately needed here. No, here. Help hasn’t come here. There are names of towns and cities you can’t even pronounce, numbers of the dead or missing, homes destroyed. Water, tetanus shots, body bags, and someone still waiting for news of a loved one.
And so you have a go at packing, and then begin to pledge the weekend’s earnings. Keep going with messages of despair, change it to hope, and then be angry again. Volunteer at assembling lists of who needs what and where the money goes. Keep sifting through posts, find the most essential article, and pass it on. And yet.
You still feel so powerless. And you sit there, transfixed because you are one person among many, scrambling to help thousands, and believing you haven’t done enough. Paralyzed not only by grief, but also by the avalanche of aid, and how everyone else seems to be doing something.
Perhaps you should get on a chopper too, boxes in the cargo, and hand over water filters. A relative is there, doing medical work; can you help and play nurse? Maybe you should head to a wholesaler and buy slippers in bulk. Someone just started a drive, or discovered a way of wrapping goods with a malong. “Now why didn’t I think of that?” You troop over to the DSWD, except they turn you away. “Too many volunteers come back another day.”
So you wearily run back home and sit in your chair, dazed and staring at your screen. It’s still there. The words, the images on your screen: “someone needs help, what are you going to do?” You are stunned by the immensity of loss, and guilt-stricken that you sitting there doing so little.
You take a deep breath and venture out of feeling so small, hemmed in your box, unable to move. Now I am certain we are hard-wired for empathy. The gnawing feeling that you’re not doing anything for a cry of help, that feeling never goes away. You want to throw a lifeline every time you hear an SOS. But I only have a handful of ropes and I have to decide on the rope that’s most sturdy, the one that will actually pull someone out. Perhaps there’s no need to get on a plane, administer medicine, procure 5000 sardines, or draw water from a well. Someone who knows what he is doing is already there, doing exactly that.
You watched, you were moved to tears, you prayed every day, you gave the measly sum that’s huge enough to hurt your pocket, and you’re still scrambling to help. And there’s no need to feel small hemmed in our box, transfixed and paralyzed because the task is overwhelming. We are doing every bit, where we can. And that each one is putting herself out, whether with a 5×7 artwork she drew and valued like her life, or with bags enough to fill a C-130 plane, each rope thrown is a lifeline.
So sift through all the messages and search out the call you can answer. Now’s the time to feel powerful despite the seemingly insignificant help you do. You are one among many, scrambling to help thousands, and one day, the help will add up, and it could be enough.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.