Our Lives & The Causes We Join

What I'm about to write will certainly put off many folks. But since only about 50 folks a day read my blog, I guess I won't be putting off too many. For reasons I will attempt to explain, I have always been somewhat, and I stress the word somewhat, put off by folks who leap full-on into a cause only when it directly impacts their lives, whether it be an illness to themselves or a loved one. I agree that folks should be applauded for championing a cause regardless of what brought them to that place. But I guess I'm more impressed by the people who take a more unselfish approach to causes. Perhaps they're struck by a story, a news piece or they're simply pulled into something that has no impact on their inner circle.

The point of this post is to finally come to the realization that I am one of the "selfish" ones that I vituperate above. There are certainly causes that I am vocal about that have yet to play an immediate and tangible role in my life, notably my unwavering opposition to the death penalty and my utter disgust with bigotry based on race, sexual preference, or any personal trait that is a part of one's makeup. And my interest in national politics is something that will likely never dissipate. But the issues that I've gone beyond just speaking about, and actually volunteered, donated money and actively taken part in affecting, are those causes that have touched my life. In the mid-to-late 90s, I did some work in the mental health arena, and despite always believing that mental health is greatly underfunded and carries ludicrous stigmas, I was finally prompted to dive into the cause when mental health issues surfaced within my family. Once this happened, I felt no choice but to make time.

Another recent cause that's continued to pull at my heartstrings is the situation in Burma. And just like my plunge into mental health care, this was spurred because a person very close to me was born in Burma. To see the sorrow in this person's eyes following the failed protests of 2007 and the cyclone that ravaged an already suffering country, threw a fuel inside me to donate, learn and do my tiny part. I'm not claiming to have done much. That's not really the point of what I'm getting at here. It's simply how much we're impacted by larger suffering once it hits us directly. It amazes me how a jolt to someone close to us can lead us down such a massive road.

In this weeks New Yorker, we can all catch a glimpse of the state of affairs in this torn country. The moment I opened my apartment door this evening, I sat down and plowed through the article. After finishing, what struck me most was how much the state of Burma grabs at me. And I wondered why, had it not been for a loved one having been born there, I'd likely have tossed it on the backburner once the media bid farewell.