Guilty

27 Nov

Lately I’ve been having a big internal struggle between the immature, materialistic part of myself that keeps a list of movies to buy and the more mature, self-sacrificing part of myself that wants to save the world. It’s a very difficult fight. I really do want to be a good person and help people less fortunate than I. And most of the time, I feel that it would be pretty hypocritical to have a nice house, filled with pretty things. I mean, if I work really hard and make money, and buy things, that would be nice. But there are people out there with nothing, which would make me feel guilty about having nice things. Do I really, honestly need all that stuff? Doubtful. I’ve been blessed (or cursed) with an eye for beauty and good taste, coupled with the strong desire to help others. How can those two parts of me learn to exist peacefully?

I know that life requires you to have stuff. I’m just not so sure anymore how much stuff it requires. Probably not as much as I have. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner tonight with my family, and we were all really full and lazy. I am thankful for this. But at the same time, there’s a little voice in my head that almost feels shameful, having so much food for dinner when I know there are people right in my own town who have nothing. I know it’s not my job to take care of everyone else. I’m not going to single-handedly save the world. But I would certainly like to try. There aren’t very many people out there who are trying.

I think a lot of this feeling has to do with just finishing my paper and working at SADAC. Writing my paper, while enjoyable and very interesting, was hard emotionally. It sort of gets to you after a while, writing for weeks and weeks about poor orphans, forced to flee their homes with nothing, without family members or understanding of what is happening. I cannot even begin to understand what that must be like. Hopefully, I never will. But I now feel a strange connection with these people, having researched their plight so thoroughly. This is an entire generation of people we’re talking about, growing up without parents, a sense of safety, or basic necessities. What is going to happen to them when they get to be parents themselves? I feel that, knowing all of this now, I must do something. I can’t have spent so much of my semester dedicating myself to this project to sit back now and do nothing. I’ve never had anything school-related affect me this much. And working with alcohol and drug abuse recovery is opening a whole new world. I have no idea about anything in the drug culture. I’ve never done anything in my life, so I can’t possibly relate. I know what it’s like to have a big internal struggle, and hopefully that’s enough to draw on that I can be of help to them. I don’t think they’re bad people. They just haven’t made good choices. Does that make a person bad, though? Condemn them for a mistake?

It’s like I’m a totally different person now. Cynical, but at the same time hopeful. I don’t have much faith in the government or in big business to get anything done. It’s the little people I have hope in. The ones who do the small things every day to make someone else’s life better. Maybe it started with my paper. Maybe it started at the AATA conference. Whatever it was, something has definitely been nudging me lately. Telling me that I need to start looking for more opportunities. Quit trying to be good all the time, and just break down and be raw. And act. I have to do something. I can’t sit around anymore, wasting time and electricity and knowledge and oxygen and all the other little things we take for granted and are running out of. I’ve never been so aware of the world around me before. It’s exciting, but frightening at the same time. I have no idea what my future holds. But I have a feeling that I’m starting to figure it out. One vision at a time.

Basically, it’s hard for me to make out a Christmas list this year, knowing there are children who will get nothing this holiday. That makes me so sad. But at the same time, there are some things that I want, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without presents. Hard, isn’t it? It’s hard to be humanitarian all the time. It’s almost like letting your guard down, to let the materialistic, greedy side show through. I have to find a good balance between these two halves. How can I do this?

Do I honestly know what I want out of life?

I want to be happy. And I want to share that happiness with others, let them have some for themselves. I think everyone deserves this. I’m definitely getting to be bigger than my body gives me credit for.

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