Saturday, September 10, 2005

how much is too little?

last week, in an attempt to do something, anything, to combat the sense of helplessness that comes with watching so many people suffering while knowing i can't do a damn thing to end their suffering, i decided to organize a clothing drive at my job. the intent was to take the clothes to one of the shelters that has been housing many of the people displaced by hurricane katrina.

out of a lab of over 150, i received responses and clothing from about ten.

on the one hand, i would like to believe the women and men here (none who makes less than $50,000 a year unless they're a black female with locs named nikki), contributed somewhere else. on the other hand, i have witnessed time and again how self-absorbed my co-workers are. i can also say without hesitation that it has nothing to do with skin color. the one other black person working in my department is probably the most self-absorbed person i've ever met in my life. her idea of helping the katrina victims is watching the news and saying a prayer for their souls.

when i was in charge of the charitable campaign fund last year, i matured in mind after the experience. i've always been one of those closet optimists, the kind of person who was vocally cynical, but whose heart was forever optimistic. i have to admit that maybe a brick or two of my optimism crumbled as a result of runnng that campaign fund. i was told time and again about how folks don't need handouts, they needed to get off of their lazy asses and get jobs. cuz of course, having a job will automatically cure one of AIDS, automatically provide one's kids with all of the advantages of the rich, automatically give that same kid a sense of empowerment while he or she continues to dwell in an environment that seeks to sap every last bit of hope and strength of mind from his or her body.

don't get it twisted co-workers never came out and said "they need to get off of their lazy asses". no, they phrased it like "people like that should pick themselves up by the bootstraps and make the best of it." you know, because being poor automatically means someone isn't attempting to do just that. i'm surrounded by folks who believe that being poor is evidence of a person's deficiency and inability to operate in society in a valuable capacity. just thinking about that pisses me off.

then again, i have to check myself. who da hell am i to get mad at these people for being who they are? they're adults who are set in their beliefs and actions and no amount of suffering they witness will change that fact. people have been suffering for centuries and the suffering will continue for centuries to come. all i can do is hope that my actions will motivate someone to recognize the power each one of us has. the power to change the world for better or for worse.