I’m here, at my hotel room in one of the richest countries in the world, were we try to care about as many people as possible, even the ones who do wrong. Many were stunned by the dignified reactions after 22th of July, where one man killed hundreds of innocent teens for twisted ideological reasons. Most people in our country, got together in every city to pay their respect for the relatives who lost children, and for the political system we live in. We wanted to show that we didn’t react the same way as he did, blaming others that eventually just feeds hate and war.
In norway it’s the norm that you give money to charity, and right now there’s a record in memberships in volunteer organizations. We want to help, and often we do.
But still, there is so much poverty, suffering and unfairness in this word, and sometimes I feel the weight of it on my shoulder. I feel a bit bad for staying in a hotel with a warm bed and safe room, when many in Russia right now are freezing to death. I can go out and buy all the food I need, when so many people right now desperately try to find something to eat, so that their children can live yet another day.
Right now I’m reading nothing to envy by Barbara Demick, that describes the unbelievable, a harsh reality that can be hard to digest. Sweeping misery under the rug, helps us feeling well and comfortable. Many react on unfairness with negative feelings. It feels terrible that there’s so much that should be done, while we go about our life thinking mostly about ourselves or others close to us. It’s scary to think about how much we don’t do, it opens a whole drawer full of other revelations: We’re ignoring suffering around us, feeling there is nothing we can do, feeling helpless and that hope is nowhere near. Some protect themselves by blaming others: political systems, lazy people or bad leaders. Some try to block it out, like looking down when we pass hungry people on the street, and some try to actually do something, so that the feeling (I’m a good person) actually fits with our behavior (doing good). What alternative do you choose? Maybe you don’t have a choice: ‘charity begins with a full stomach’ (from nothing to envy, p. 167)
Helping doesn’t mean that we can’t do things for ourselves also. Actually it’s the other way around, people taking care of their needs, have more energy available for the next of kin, they love to make somebody smile: by donating clothes twice a year, by touching somebody’s shoulder when they look unhappy, or helping a old lady who lose her bag. It’s finding the person who lost their cat, it’s stopping when somebody need a lift, it’s looking people in the eye and offering assistance when you feel somebody need it. With people caring, with media caring it forces political systems to also take caring seriously, those political parties give a good impression, and we want that more today than earlier when we had enough with our own problems.
There is so much we can do, every day, to inspire others, and I promise: Nothing will make you feel better. Be how you think you are, as often as possible.