sympathy, the zoo, & the fiscal address to the shadow of death

the air was thick; you could almost taste it, and seemed to reflect the street and vendor lights that gathered from every direction. my hands were in fists but it wasn't someone i wanted to fight, it was just my body’s natural repose to the surroundings. as i walked down the narrow ally way to the middle of the red light district in kalcutta, india i realized that my heart wasn't broken at all, actually for the short time i walked down the pensive streets it felt as if i had no heart. it had frozen, or dissolved, or cease to beat in fear of allowing my feelings to overwhelm me and my body simply curl up in the fetal position and sob. these were not women of the night, these were mere girls with makeup, a few cloths slung on their back and a juvenile mind that clinched to a few dreams from their youth.
that is exactly what they had, or the little that what was left of it. some of them couldn't have been more than 15 years old, maybe. i choked, not because of just their circumstances, but because none of them smiled, their eyes looked so vacuous, as if there whole bodies had shut down like mine wanted to, and their evenings were set to autopilot. i wanted to grab them, and run, where? i didn't care. not at that moment. i just wanted to transport every single one of them to someplace where they could cry again. where they could love because of love, where their soul wasn't bought for 20-200 rupees (a mere $.50-$4.00). but it doesn't do much to stare at their present circumstance, sympathy is an enabler, and i wasn't in a zoo, i was walking through the valley of the shadow of death with a fiscal address.
my lungs began to seize and my breath's got shallower not just because of the excavated pupils surrounding me in every direction but because of the shear amount of children running through the streets, for them this was home. these streets were where they spent the days of there early childhood learning about life, and what it contained. what is to become of them? are they destined to live the same as their parents? are they to be the ones i will walk past and eventually cry over 15 years down the road. i have to do something. st. luke said "to much is given, much is required," and that night much was given to me.
"brad" works with these kids each and every day teaching them a trade so that they won't have to repeat the lifestyles of the ones that have gone before them, i asked him what he feels when he sees the "kids" (both the girls of the street and their children) each and every night. he said that it still hits him from time to time though he has grown immune over time because he sees it so frequently, but then he said "there is nothing i can do about what is happening tonight, i cannot save anyone that has worked in this industry in the past or the present, my eyes are simply focused on what and who i can change in the future." as i sat in the chair just moments after the experience his words sank deep like the sting of a syringe, pushing medicine painfully into my arteries and permeating throughout my body.
my head aches to help now, i don't want to grow immune to a lifestyle were pursuing comforts in life is far more the venture than doing my part to help humanity for the better. imagine if everyone helped just one person in the advancement of his or her lives? imagine a world where the west did more than just throw money at the problems of the world and actually got involved in the caretaking of the innocent.
as the fog of the night cleared, as if even the night itself knew the lessons i would learn that fateful eve, i remember thinking that i regret that i had just one life to live for these children and children like them around the world. what is this short life that i should care what the world thinks of the level of my success. i now know that this savior complex that i was trying to evaluate and "treat" was not a complex at all, but rather was a mere introduction to the fate and destiny that lay before me.


Sambo said…
it is indeed not easy to help as much as we can. there are those who are stubborn, those who have given up. it is they that need more of our help.

i was surprised you made this one line from the bible so realistic,based from your experience.

as i read your post, i was reminded of the movie "pay it forward". and i do agree that we must help atleast one person at a time. its either that or we live in a world thats falling apart.
Anthony said…
we're glad you're back.
I hope that as you tour this spring that somehow you can share what you learned on this trip with the youth of the nation.
they're seeking direction.
how cool would it be if you could show them the world that they need to reach?
Kate said…
wow. really puts things in perspective. glad your back safely. i i missed modesty while you were gone.
Sarah Noel said…
sometimes it just needs to start with helping one person. i hope you can use your experiences in India as great tools.

have you read "11 Minutes" Coelho?
Alice-Bo-Balice said…
Don't ever forget this because I think that you're going to make such a big impact on so many people...

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of the missing drop." -Mother Teresa
MH said…
Anonymous said…
I expect to pass through this world but once; any good things that therefore that I can do; or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again - Stephen Greller
Anonymous said…
I once heard it said, "We can change the world." WE can. I wouldn't try this one on your own. However, I would try. May I join your team?
lis said…
i think it is just right for all of us right now to think of other people, rather than ourselves.

we can change the world...and we will all change the world, gradually.
we must exert effort into helping other people...and even through simple gestures or big gestures, like this post of yours: spreading awareness to the people:, we will eventually change the world.

all our efforts matter. :D
sj. said…
what you just wrote about echoes all the thoughts ive been having for months. WHAT DO I DO? WHERE DO I BEGIN?

i wrote a blog on The Blood Diamond and being the answer to humanity.

it sucks that there are only so many words I know how to type before breaking down and just weeping.

just reading this blog has brought tears to my eyes.
N. Thayer said…
So many people get caught up in their own lives - that they forget or just don't care about others... if it doesn't benefit them then it just isn't a serious issue.

I really believe there should be more done to show how horrible things are in other countries... and what we can do to help... alot of times those "commercials" about donating 10 cents a day or whatever... just looks fake or like a scam... i truely believe it would help open the eyes of alot more people if there was a deep, heart-felt tv program or commercial.
It's amazing how the picture you painted really puts life into perspective. I can't imagine what it was like to be there. I hope, with the things you've seen, you'll be able to open people's hearts to some of the terrible things going on in the world. Like Anthony said, it would be awesome to show young people where they are needed.
Antoinette said…
You are seriously one of my heroes. There aren't enough people out there trying to make an impact on the world.
Kimberley said…
You make me think,dear.
There're still many things that we can do,they might be small,but if everyone helps the people around them,the miserable events could be decreased.
I've only recently found this blog and although I find it a bit strange to leave messages for a stranger there was something weighting on my heart after reading this. Kids like the ones you described so vividly break my heart (they'd break almost anyone's heart) but we've almost come to expect that in a third world country (or what, we as Americans in our habitual ignorance perceive to be 'third world') but what Americans don't realize is that there is an overwhelming number of kids enduring things like that in their own neighborhood, in numbers larger than anyone realizes. I work for The Devereux Foundation (the largest provider of children's mental health services in the US) at a group home that houses twelve 11-17 year old teenagers and the things I see on a daily basis is enough to rip your heart out. This is my third year working at this facility and it's starting to wear on me, day in and day out seeing kids who know nothing but sex instead of affection and hate instead of happiness. I had a girl who contracted Herpes (and INCURABLE STD) from her father at age six, another one who snuck out at night to turn tricks, not for money but for affection. I've seen kids whose parents beat them so bad they go into seizures on a daily basis. A young girl whose mother and aunt sold her for crack. And this is in a suburb outside of Orlando, Florida. Every time I think I've seen the worst that humanity can do to a child another one comes in and breaks my heart all over again. I'm twenty-three years old and my heart has been shattered by children who will never have a childhood, who know the worst that humanity has to offer and doesn't trust anything but disappointment. I guess I just wanted to say that I sympathize with what you experienced, I know what it's like to stare into the eyes of a child and see a torchered soul. Somedays I have to sit in my car and pray that God will give me the strength one more tearful flashbak and to keep me from breaking down myself. Witnessing to these kids is a constant struggle, not because they don't have the capability to believe (they want, more than anything, to believe that someone, anyone loves them) but to look at them when they ask why God allowed that to happen... I don't know what to say sometimes, just tell them that God can't take away what happened in the past but let them know that He can help in the future. Just tell them that there's something good waiting for them and hope that's enough.
Story of a Girl said…
"i remember thinking that i regret that i had just one life to live for these children and children like them around the world. what is this short life that i should care what the world thinks of the level of my success. "

wow. what a great heart. you will make such a great difference...if there were only more people with hearts like yours. I admire you...

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