It’s been a pretty bollox year hasn’t it? And it’s only March.
Earthquakes, more earthquakes, flooding, fires, a tsunami, political scandals and ongoing wars not to mention the usual suspects such as grotesque poverty and starvation, things we have become accustomed to and usually lump into a category under something along the lines of “that’s just the way the world works.” Our pale blue dot really appears to be having a field day at tearing itself up doesn’t it? And our media really, really appears to be enjoying scaring the hell out of us.
I usually default to thinking critically about world events. Trying to find an interesting angle to view what’s happening around the globe, beating my brains out thinking of the good/better/best way to express my thoughts and feelings, but every time I have sat down in the last week to ponder Japan, the Middle East and New Zealand… I have come to a stand still in my writing. I have about four unfinished word documents that focus on some of the following ideas…
1) How culturally obnoxious I am to be feeling sorry for every Asian person I have seen since last Fridays tsunami, wondering if they’re Japanese and hoping their families are okay. What does this say about my attention to ethnicity? What does it say about my respect of cultures individual traditions and heritage – each as valuable as the next and all equally contributing priceless gems to the richness of global culture, and from a God fearing woman’s point of view, to the intricacy of God. I think it probably shows that I am caring – yes, tick, but also perhaps misguided, definitely under-informed, and probably if I am to be honest, somewhat ignorant of my fellow man.
2) I’ve been infuriated at the double standards some have placed on the tragedies in Christchurch and in Northern Japan. I don’t much like to compare tragedies – because I don’t much like the idea of stacking up global sadness in a mental chart next to one another and weighing up what is better or worse. Walls of water or crumbling buildings? It’s all the same at the end of the day (I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice”), because people’s lives have been destroyed and changed in horrific ways, regardless of their race, culture or history. When Christchurch wept – so did we. We stopped and looked at the world’s kid-brother country, the wee Jonny battler who gave us Crowded House and Lord of The Rings. Not a bad word was said of the people or the place – and rightfully so. It was a tragedy, and remains a tragedy, and when tragedy strikes… no matter who it strikes upon, we should extend our hearts to those affected. However, though there has indeed been a generally similar response to the devastation in Japan, I have also seen some very ugly reactions. People posting comments on news papers and on social networking websites sighting “Pearl Harbour,” and the word “karma,” much too closely together as if to suggest that perhaps the tsunami was Japan’s just deserts. This is cruel. It is a cowardly rubbing-of-salt into the gaping wound that was inflicted on Japan last Friday. No one, not anyone deserves to be kicked like that when they’re down, and it leaves me with my heart in my throat to think what hurt must have happened in someone’s life to have such a shallow understanding of love that they should think an entire nation should suffer as a sick form of universal “payback,” for the past mistake of war. War is a mistake outright, one which I know of no country that can claim to not have been a part of at one time or another, war as a means of solution is something we all need to move on from.
All this thinking has left me feeling undeniably doomy and gloomy whenever I have sat down to write. It’s the same look reflected in my laptop screen that I have caught on many peoples faces in the last few weeks as I have rode the train and noticed a general state of everyone feeling perhaps a little winded by the worlds, at times, hard blow. But I want to offer some form of hope in all of this, a hope that took me by surprise a few evenings ago around a big wooden table with some very lovely people.
The conversation began with acquaintances who noticed I had a Kiwi accent, which rolled on to talking about New Zealand, which rolled on to Christchurch and on to Japan and on to a lovely person posing the question, “with everything that goes on, I can kind of see where people come from that say they wouldn’t want to bring children up in a world like this.” Her off-the-cuff statement got my mind spiralling.
She’s right… why bother bring a child into a world that seems to at times be out to get us? Matter of fact, why bother create or start anything new when it could all be taken away in an instant? What’s the point?
And that is when I got to thinking about a secret legend called Eugene Sietkiewicz – my grandfather. Eugene Sietkiewicz, affectionately known as Dziadek (ja-dek) is an elderly Polish man who has lived through two world wars – in Eastern Europe. He is an ex-soldier that survived the German blitzkrieg of Poland in World War II, and also the Holocaust. He is a walking miracle who has seen in harsh reality of the images that have brought me to tears of prisoners of war in concentration camps that I have only seen and looked away from in Google Images. And though he lived through hell, he and his wife, my Grandmother Katryzna Sietkiewicz who I get my brown eyes from, saw it fit to bring my Father into the world. My grandparents knew what the world could be like, they knew its peoples faults and failings and still they decided it would be worth it to bring another life into it – they decided it was better to love and possibly lose, than to not love at all.
I came back to the table from the bullet train of thought I’d just been on and piped up. In part, because I like to talk. Also because I couldn’t bear the depressing direction of our chat but mostly because I am someone that I think will need to have children in my life, because if I don’t I will become a selfish, out of touch, cat lady with a penchant for musky smelling perfumes. It’s true.
The lovely young woman opposite me smiled at my response and summed it up better than I will be able to making me appear more intelligent than I am by saying “you know what, you’re right – having kids would give you such an incredible reason to want to make the world a better place.” And she is absolutely right.
I don’t want to be someone who waves the doom and gloom banner high and spends my life not doing or creating anything for fear that anything I create could be taken away from me. Nor do I want to be a deluded robot woman who ignores the heartache of the world. However, I think it’s possible to respectfully do both. To look at our world, our broken world full of fragile folks, and in spite of how timid we may feel after having been through so much together, to dream once more. I believe that this world is good, I really do, and that if it wasn’t meant to be here it wouldn’t be, simple as that. And though it guts me to my bones to think of all the hurt that’s happening, I’m not going to stop trying to make my neck of the woods a better place.