In my mind’s eye, I see us as actually living in one community, a global village. In my book Tao Flashes, I write, “When we begin to define our community as a global village or community, we see there are no real boundaries.”
This belief and my conviction that we live in a world where we are all connected in spirit, where what is in the one, is in the all, dictates my behavior.
But not everyone shares this belief.
What I noticed recently is how passionate and protective people can be in their dedication to maintaining boundaries. I saw this during the news coverage and campaign to help rescue the nearly 300 young girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
The outcry and social media efforts created a lot of awareness about the plight of these girls. It also caused other nations, including the United States, to take action to help. And it created awareness about the epidemic of sexual slavery in our world, including our very own country.
Yet, there were those who found fault with the media coverage, the rallies and the social media campaign. Some newscasters on Fox mocked the effort. Here in my city, I read dismissive and unkind comments on a local tv station’s facebook page when they promoted a rally to support the Nigerian girls and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
The comments called supporters stupid for thinking the campaign could do any good. Others chastised supporters for not acknowledging the problem of sexual abuse here in the United States. Supporters were called hypocrites for their support of a “cause du jour.” The comments were largely negative and many reprimended supporters for not acting locally to address the myriad of social problems we have here at home.
As a supporter of the #bringbackourgirls campaign, I initially felt a little defensive. So I did some soul searching. And I thought about the comments and the campaign, wondering if there were seeds of truth I might need to swallow.
This is what I came up with:
Yes, there are problems of sexual slavery here. It’s important to read and study and learn more about this issue and advocate in whatever way one feels called to do so. But not supporting the Nigerian girls, doesn’t HELP the girls here at home, either. Should we do nothing at all?
If the publicity from this campaign helped to create more awareness, wasn’t that a good thing?
Wasn’t the support being sent to Nigeria (as a result of this campaign) going to help alleviate just a little bit of suffering?
Call me a magical thinker–I’ve been accused of worse. But I actually believe that any help, any spport, is an expression of love. And that’s a good thing.
Can we do more? Yes, absolutely. But I don’t think people need to be shamed for having hope, even if other people feel it is misguided. If we didn’t have hope, we would be a bitter, hate-filled, lawless, broken society, useless to ourselves and as importantly, useless to others.
I think it’s important to support others in guidance with your spirit, whether you devote yourself to a particular cause full-throttle or if you express it on a whim, the way many of us do when we see a homeless person and offer them money. Sometimes the help we offer is instinctive, spontaneous and temporary.
But it has value.
It’s something. And no, most of us can’t cure homelessness or take a beggar home with us. But we can offer support, a meal, a prayer, a touch of humanity to someone in need. It’s SOMETHING. It’s an expression of humanity, and that’s a lot.
Our support of others doesn’t have to be measured within zipcodes or state lines or other boundaries. And it doesn’t have to be weighed out in parcels of who is more deserving of attention–this person or that person, this group or that group.
Let’s not judge what others do when they are following their hearts or inner compass. This world is shrinking into a much smaller place, and as citizens without borders, we’re all here to do our part.
Even the critics and those who make angry comments about how people show their support of causes are doing their part. I don’t find fault. I’m thinking many of them are rightfully frustrated and angry about the suffering in this world, and they want to remind us that there is much more to do.
They’re actually right on that one. There is more to do. So I say, find what moves you.
For some it is supporting animal rights. For others, it might be education, poverty, homelessness, hunger, child abuse. For me, it is human rights, disaster relief, homelessness, spiritual hunger and so much more.
Let’s take our anger and dispair and do something meaningful with it–and without having someone else define “meaningful” for us.
And while we’re at it, let’s quit letting others dictate our hearts. As I write in Tao Flashes, “When we open up our eyes and our hearts to others, whether they live three blocks away or on a remote mountaintop in India, we can come to know the real definition of community. It is then that love unites, leaving nothing to divide us.