Aleppo falls – and we all cry. The BBC and Facebook beam us images of little toddlers in shock, and we cry. We wail! OOOh what is to be done! How did this happen! Why won’t they just stop bombing! What can we do! What can I do! We are so helpless! I am so helpless! Oh the poor little children! Sign a petition! Write a Letter! Send some money~! We must stop it happening now!
And I myself have had this thought process, over and over again, on so many deep and far reaching problems, from organ-utans being massacred to climate wreaking havoc – from sex slaves in Chelmsford to destitute 50 years olds in Grimsby – from teens in the Jungle to slags in the slammer – from turtles choked on plastic to rivers dammed dry.
And now Aleppo. And so I came to thinking, what IS this nonsense? Are we helpless? If so, why? In what ways are we NOT helpless? What CAN you do?
Aleppo falls, yes. How do we know? The BBC told us. When did they tell us? At the last moments, when it is much much too late. What did they tell us? Something very very upsetting.
Did you know, that at every moment, somewhere, someone in the world, from a deep sea worm to a mighty Pope – someone, somewhere is suffering unimaginable pain and torture. If that someone is not you, but you want to see it, if you want to be Upset, all you have to do is look. The internet is full of Upset. So is the World. Do you want to be Upset? Why?
By the same token, at any moment, someone somewhere, is blissfully, wonderfully unimaginably happy, or just content, or isn’t really aware of it because they are so absorbed in what they are doing. Do you want to see that? Look for it. Maybe it’s in you.
Do you know what Aleppo is? A place with a very long history. Did you know about it before? I assume, not much, unless you have particular links with Aleppo, why should you? If you knew nothing before, why do you want to know now, when your knowing does nothing?
Do you know Yemen is in a terrible state? And Sudan? Do you want to wail about that too? Or is that too much wailing for one day?
What do you know? Do you know your town? Your grandmother’s town? Do you know your work? Your children? Your local councillor? Who owns the empty shop on your high street? If you knew Aleppo a few years ago, you might have predicted today’s news. If you know your home now, can you predict it’s problems? Can you see what needs doing?
If you want to ‘help’ and stop suffering, you absolutely CAN. You have power, you just haven;t realised how to use it yet. Commit your life to a meaningful pursuit, the pursuit of ending or softening suffering. Commit to what you CAN do. You ignored Aleppo all your life, and now you cry. Why? Because someone decided to show you a suffering child. And you let them. You looked, and you cried. Now please stop crying and stop ignoring what is in front of you. Pick up your work, and get to work. Your job is not to cry about places you didn’t care about until you stumbled on an image on Facebook. Your job is to commit yourself to your own power in the world, and that is what counts. Open your house to a refugee, make food for the Jungle, build an eco home, look after your sick mother, look after yourself – your happiness counts! You are also a human being, just like the child in Aleppo! Everything else – this weeping and flailing of limbs, is indulgence. It serves Facebook, and nobody else. You squander your power, wailing about how powerless you are. Now GO TO WORK.