Hope is a strange thing.
By the time you break a national problem into pieces small enough to actually address, it feels like any action you take is meaningless. And yet to take no action admits to hopelessness. So you inventory your abilities and resources and do what you can.
And you hope it helps.
A month ago I mailed 27 pairs of children’s shoes and a soccer ball to a friend’s friend’s husband stationed in Iraq. He had written home saying the kids there had no shoes.
I felt overwhelmed by what is happening in my country- the increasingly rabid division between left and right, and while soaring ideals of freedom and peace can carry me away, I get lost in ideals and drowned in big problems. I am a small, practical person; my resources are limited: some time, a little money, a love of children and decent organizational skills.
My friend’s friend’s husband wrote me back. I’m out of kid’s shoes, but he says the children where he’s stationed (Ba’qubah, 30 miles north of Baghdad) have no toys, no balls or dolls, and very few clothes. I’m going to gather up what I’ve got and ask around. I have friends with kids who outgrow shoes.
St Francis of Assisi taught that there is no point in walking five miles to preach a sermon if the walking itself is not the sermon. I know one soldier who has traveled many more miles than that to be moved by Iraqi children even while he is missing his own. He’s not preaching Occupation, or America, or even Democracy. He just saw kids without shoes; kids like his own kids. And that’s a sermon I want to help Iraqi children hear.
I’m going to gather up as much as I can afford to ship and stick pictures of my kids in the box. I’m going to ask other people to help. I’m going to collect children’s shoes, and children’s clothes and toys and smiling faces and send them to the kids in Iraq. It’s a little intimidating, but this is what I can do.
I hope it helps.