The days grow shorter as the end of one more year approaches. There is a feeling of pain shooting through life right now. It even hurts just to be sensitive to the impending loss. It is not the leaves falling early from the late summer drought. It is not the unexplained pain shooting though an arm and shoulder. Someone close is in such pain that the future holds no promise. The many poor people in the classroom today harbored more hurt than most can imagine. Nearby today a hundred thousand cried out in pain for the mothers of dead soldiers. Yet, none of these manifestations were the source of the pain I feel right now.
The trees will blossom once more next year, branches need no sympathy. My physical pain will go away, if not from healing then from my body's passing. My mother's back has tormented her for so many years it amounts only to so much ongoing torture. The poor in the classroom were at least making progress, learning a new career. The loss of an army to the whims of a few despots drunk with power is nothing new. No, my pain comes from a different source. It is a hurt born of mass ignorance, greed, and insensitivity. A society that has learned only how to inflict ongoing torment on the greater world around it makes me writhe in agony.
Each day millions of Americans just suck and suck and gnaw at the nerves of a world dying of hunger. With each person consuming ten times the resources of people in poor nations, the citizens of the United States pile injury on insult. Wreaking havoc on traumatized Middle Eastern towns, raping the equatorial forests and crushing the Third World farmers is how the United States brings unbearable pain to the rest of the world. Whatever the war and economic machines leave unscathed the searing garbage culture of Hollywood and corporate greed smother. Finally, the stupid citizens gnaw on their bones while somewhere in the world a million babies starve for lack of mother's milk. A mother's breast is empty because there was no nutritious food for her to eat today, or yesterday.
In the streets of California and New York the dogs get fat while in Burundi and Niger babies bloat. It hurts so bad because there is not a soul in the United States that seems willing to look beyond their well-manicured but fruitless lawns.
I am alone, out of work again for a few months, resisting the insult of WalMart, Kmart or pizza delivery jobs. Letting a billionaire exploit my sweat for pennies just seems like the final defeat. There is a driving desire in me to relieve the pain lived by my neighbors in Africa, Asia, Haiti and the Third World, all sucked almost lifeless. A reader sitting in any developed Western nation must be laughing uncontrollably at the mere folly of the suggestion that one man could make a difference. "There is nothing that can be done, let them suffer and save only yourself!" one friend implores me.
I cannot believe that I am but a butterfly in a cyclone, that the flap of my small wings has no impact.
I have prepared for too long, in too many unique ways, to believe my mission is only to sit in this chair and feel the pain. There is far more I can do to bring justice to the trampled, I know it for certain. Behind some torn curtain, under some tattered rug, tucked under fallen limbs, a greater solution waits patiently. My impatience is part of the driving force seeking to uncover that solution and bring it out into the light of day. A flap of my wings beside the Chesapeake is not enough to shake the leaves of ignorance in Washington. "Throw off this discouragement and arise like a fire that burns all before it" my old friend suggests, "The wise grieve not for those who live; and they grieve not for those who die – for life and death shall pass away. Because we all have been for all time…and we all shall be for all time, we all for ever and ever."
Somehow his words do not still the outrage at deliberate human injustices on a global scale. The balance is too slow in coming. I flap my wings once again. Another leaf flutters to the ground outside my window.