Monday, July 20, 2009

Alice Walker's Overcoming Speechlessness

Sitting at the dining room table, enjoying my first cup of coffee, I read Alice Walker's tale of horror and hope. Her essay is called Overcoming Speechlessness.

As I read and thought about my family and the comforts we enjoy, the tears came. It is simply beyond my capacity to understand how people can act in this manner; I have trouble just eating meat because I know it once had a heart that beat blood through its body, and a brain that formulated thoughts.

I remember as a child, hearing my parents say how fortunate we were to have been born in such a wonderful country, fortunate to have the things we had, to have never been touched by war or famine or any of the atrocities we heard about.

Why do I get to live in relative safety, while others are brutalized and murdered in their own homes? How come I can watch my children grow to maturity and have families of their own while the lives of other babies are horribly and brutally ended before their mothers' very eyes? What kind of pain is that? Is there even a word for it? Why have I been so fortunate, to use my father's words? I don't have an answer.

I feel like I need to do something. But I don't know what to do. My words don't come eloquently and philosophically. Should I organize ... I don't know ... something ... a food drive? If I do, will it even get through? Is this what helplessness feels like?

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