Insulated and isolated

moving houseOur new neighbors moved in. They used a large Penske rental truck that they drove from a distant city.

Somehow I thought of villagers having to move their worldly possessions due to war. Everything they have is carried on their backs or loaded on a cart pulled by a donkey. What a contrast to life in America.

I live such an insulated life here. If I don’t visit websites to read and see what’s going on in other parts of the world, I am blissfully unaware. And even if I do see what’s happening, I become desensitized to the pain and suffering. There’s so much of it.

What can I do? I could give. I could downsize my possessions, so I don’t feel guilty about having so much. I could go overseas to try to help. I can pray for those who are hurting. I’ve done all those things, but it still does not seem to be enough.

Does the family moving their possessions on their backs feel less guilt than I? It’s hard to say. Do they feel more pain? Yes.

Where am I going with this post? I don’t know. Maybe just sharing the pain will help a little.

The photo of the refugees was taken by Julien Harneis and is used under a Creative Commons license. If you click on his name, you can read a little of his story, which took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008.

Footnote: A good friend is going to the middle east to make a difference. You can give to help her efforts. Among other things, she will be teaching zumba classes in the West Bank. Visit her site.


3 Replies to “Insulated and isolated”

  1. As I look back over my life, I see a lot of callousness toward suffering. I worked with refugees in Honduras 30 years ago, but in retrospect, I was greatly lacking in compassion while I was there.

    I used a 26-foot Penske truck to move from Dallas to Tampa two years ago. I had my van on a trailer behind it, and the van was stuffed full as well. Much of what I had accumulated has no real worth. Since I moved into my house, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the stuff I brought, but still have boxes and boxes piled in my garage.

    If I had to carry the essentials with me, I don’t think I’d have all that much. It would be impossible to carry all my favorite books, so they’d be left behind.

  2. I totally identify with you, Paul. I, though, am also afflicted by my own particular British colonial guilty (even if that was like many years ago; the sins of the fathers passed down and all that).

    Below are three pages that are related to your post. I couldn’t quickly find the best example I know of; a photo project where a person photographed each particular family with ALL their earthly possessions laid outside their house/dwelling, in many different countries around the World (American: took up most of the front lawn; Outer Mongolia: barely a bigger area than what the people took up!).

    Has destroying all their worldly goods made these artists happy?:

    Swedish students with their possessions:

    One man’s possessions

    Personally, All my stuff is either in my small room where I live or at in storage at my brother’s work building (free storage, yippie). I am actually planning to reduce the storage possessions down to a more manageable size within the next two weeks. I’d like to make it so I can live in a standard UK double-sized room without having to clamber over stuff to get to my bed (preferable a queen-sized bed (so I can pretend to be a starfish in the night, if I so feel like the urge to)).

    For many years (and I still occasionally have similar thoughts), I thought the best and most holy thing would be to just have: about 15 items of clothing (excluding socks); three pairs of shoes (beach, smart, exercise); one single bed; one desk; one candle holder (with one big candle to provide light); three books (the Bible, a work of fiction, and a work of non-friction); one pen (possibly a quill with accompanying ink well/pot); one notebook, unlined (for writing/drawing); one camera (to record experiences/artwork; and finally one metal trunk (to house documents and precious items – such as letters from family and friends, photos, gifts received, personal artwork etc.). I’ve never managed to get close to that ‘ideal’ (if it really is ideal; I doubt it, but just don’t know).

    1. Thanks for the interesting links and for your experiences, Ed.

      I also would love to be less burdened by possessions. Having said that, I would not be happy if a thief broke in and stole what we have. The ironies of life…

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