We all want to be 'Shiny Happy People'. We want our lives to go well. We want to be happy. We want to have fun, to be carefree, to have no worries. Isn't this the Great (North) American Dream? To have enough money to sustain our lifestyle, with extra to pay for our toys, our trips, our dinners out. This, we say, is the life. Who could ask for anything more?
The flaw in this design, the fly in the ointment, isn't always clear. Sure, we are happy. Days slip away, one glorious self-indulgent day after the other, like so many grains of sand running through our fingers. Sure, we hit the occasional speed bump on our fast track to the good life. Sickness, divorce, a drinking problem, maybe a troubled child. These speed bumps jar us out of our slumber. We shake our heads, blink wildly and glance around, trying to get our bearings. Where are we? How did we get this far without really noticing? The speed bump acts as the proverbial smack on the back of the head, to shake us out of our complacency. And it works, for a little while. We hold our loved ones close. We are kind to our neighbour. We appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. We are thankful.
And then, slowly, quietly, we slip back into our self-absorbed snooze. Our focus shifts back onto ourselves and we blissfully allow it.
Genocide in Darfur? Hmm. Political unrest in Sri Lanka? Wow. Neighbour lost their job? Too bad.
What will it take to make us aware of our surroundings? and not just aware, but involved? Not just seeing, or hearing, but doing? What will it take to cause us as a people, a nation, to turn from our fat, spoiled, pampered selves to the dirty, gritty, sometimes smelly suffering that exists all around us? To ask ourselves, how can I? How can I help my neighbour, my country, my fellow man in pain? And then to do it?
We need to get our collective heads out of the sand. No more 'tut-tutting' about the plight of humanity. Let's educate ourselves, gain knowledge of those around us who are hurting, and then act in compassion. Have your jobless neighbour over for dinner. Volunteer at the food bank. Donate funds to one of the many organizations working tirelessly overseas.
We must get outside of ourselves. Once we take that first scary step that says 'there are more important things in this world than myself' we will be changed. We will be awake, and aware, and we will no longer be content to simply accumulate toys and plan our next trip.
The world will break our hearts, and our broken, bleeding, weeping hearts will in turn reach out to that world and change it.