I was driving to work today and I was listening to Thom Hartmann, a progressive talk show host. He was talking about a book about President Lincoln that President Obama had been rumored to have modelled his presidency after...and talking about how the premise of the book (or the way it portrayed Lincoln's terms in office) were incorrect - how he had always reached across the aisle for bipartisan work. Whether I agree or disagree was not the point - what I wanted to say was that it made my stomach hurt to think about the state of our government and our political system. It just feels like everything is so extreme on either side. That there is so much vitriol and fear and anger all around. I can feel it in the air and it worries me. Sometimes, I can't sleep just thinking about all of this and the state of the economy and how it affects my friends, neighbors, customers, co-workers...sometimes it is all too overwhelming.
I have noticed lately that my stomach hurts often these days upon hearing something like this, or when I hear about people arguing or hurting each other or people going missing or dying. Yesterday, when I was driving to work, I saw a squirrel that had been hit by a car and it made my stomach hurt, too.
On the way home, I listened to a discussion about Darfur and the person being interviewed was talking about social networking sites like Facebook becoming the answer to many of the humanitarian challenges of our time - humanizing those who we dehumanize is the only way to change our course, according to this man. He was a documentary film-maker who had been in Darfur in some of the refugee camps. The question they were asking was, "Why do we jump to help in Bosnia or in other European countries when people are suffering and dying or there is genocide, but in Africa, we just shrug and send a few dollars to help build a school?" They talked about racism, about natural resources, about the geo-political ramifications of not helping certain countries. The talk show host, thankfully, noted that all those reasons are valid, however shouldn't we be thinking about the human cost...shouldn't we do something now? It made my stomach hurt.
I always thought I was a fairly sensitive person, but I never had this sense of dread and ache for the state of the world like I do now. There is so much in the world that needs fixing. Sometimes I know we all feel so little and helpless. I do what I can from my sheltered American life. I send money and join causes, but I don't really always know what else to do. It is disheartening. And my stomach still hurts today.
P.S. I'm not depressed - just concerned. All that stuff is hard to hear. I'm gonna have to turn off the radio and listen to something a little more lighthearted, at least for a day or two.