“Here” Is Just As Important As “There”

Firecrow & I stopped watching television over a year ago during which we vowed only to turn it on when

Extreme Makeover:Home Edition played on Sunday nights.

We call it our crying show as he & I spend the entire show passing kleenex to each other.  These individuals are doing some wonderful good in the world.  Obviously, ABC would not continue show this unless it was making a pretty substantial profit; we try not to focus on that.  People must be watching and supporting the project.

 Not viewing TV does not mean we live in a bubble, with no world information. We have the internets:the tubes.  And no commercials:the best part.  The obscene nature of blaring commercials is enough to cause my blood pressure to rise.  Even viewing the one show we do watch, we have to mute the commercials when they come on.  It’s all buy, buy, buy–but that’s a diary in itself.

One of his students asked Buddha, “Are you the messiah?”

“No”, answered Buddha.

“Then are you a healer?”

“No”, Buddha replied.

“Then are you a teacher?” the student persisted.

“No, I am not a teacher.”

“Then what are you?” asked the student, exasperated.

“I am awake”, Buddha replied.

The wealth of information coming at us on a given day can be overwhelming and takes some time to weed through with a healthy dose of skepticism.  This can be time-consuming, but we’re not spending mindless hours in front of the propaganda box, so it balances.  

 I don’t need to point out to the readers at Docudharma all the issues that face our world.  We read and research all of them on a daily basis.  Each of us has our passionate buttons for issues which we share very readily here which allows all of us to become more richly informed.  The value of this site, for me, has truly been immeasurable.  I know Firecrow feels the same.

Go Forward With Courage

When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;

when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.

So long as mists envelop you, be still;

be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists

— as it surely will.

Then act with courage.

Ponca Chief White Eagle (1800’s to 1914)

 Because there are so many issues I feel passionately about:addiction, hunger, war, poverty, racism, the environment;  I have found myself overcome by my lack of ability to just get up and go help “there”, wherever “there” may happen to be.  My resources, or lack thereof, limits my get-up-and-go power.  Working in the addiction field, the holiday season brings tighter strings on the money coming in as my clients would like to try to salvage some holiday cheer that does not come in the form of a bottle.

Firecrow–who is a union sheet-metal foreman of a shop–is the main bread winner of the compound and work has been slow these past several weeks.  With gas prices as they are and these circumstances, we are feeling the crunch.  

It does not change our want to help where help is so desparately needed.  This was our dilemma.

“Whenever you become empowered,

you will be tested.”

~ Caroline Myss ~

Difficulties are opportunities to better things,

they are stepping stones to greater experience.

Perhaps some day you will be thankful

for some temporary failure in a particular direction.

When one door closes,

another always opens,

as a natural law it has to be, to balance.

~ Brian Adams (from ‘How to Succeed’) ~

 Follow me over the fold if you’ve ever felt the need to assist somewhere and could not…


When we first saw the images of 911, Firecrow spoke of going to ground-zero to help; but he couldn’t.

 When Katrina happened and we saw the devastation and desparation, we both wanted to go; but we couldn’t.

 When the war protests we’re going on in Washington DC, we talked about spending the money to travel there because it was important; but we couldn’t.

We felt strongly about participating hands-on with these events, but financially, we were unable.

Such events and the feeling of helplessness caused us to become depressed and step away from news stories.  We needed to begin to focus not on the lack of help we were able to give “there”, but the abundance of help we could give “here”.

We started to feel different, not so helpless.

We traveled, instead to Madison, Wisconsin to protest the war.

and… we participated in a Free Hugs Campaign.

Firecrow started talking to the guys on lunchbreak about the information he was getting outside the corporate media circuit and the men were listening, asking questions.

 I focused on my clients, the one-on-one interaction and the group counseling.  I spent two hours one night with a man whose parents had both committed suicide, along with his mother’s two sisters due to alcoholism and bi-polar disorder.  He was suffering from the same ailments and saw his fate before his eyes.  We made a contract and I sent him to someone who can help him with meds.  It’s working.  This man would never talk in group.  Now, although not a chatterbox, is contributing more and more.

I also collected items for Thanksgiving for families of a grade school in Rockford, Illinois, where most of the children fall under the poverty level.  This was the second year I did this and my collections helped us ensure that every family from that school got to make their own Thanksgiving meal at home and not spend it at the rescue mission.

A smile, a kind word–listening, if only for a few moments.  It makes the difference.  I was forgetting that.

So, we did not dig through the rubble of 911, tarp or gut homes for people in NOLA, or stand in front of the White House to protest King George’s atrocities on our country.  We stayed home.

We made connections.  We made a difference…not on a global scale, but a personal, more intimate way.  And we need to continue making this difference.

When I stopped fussing about what I was unable to accomplish, I looked at what I could.

 Firecrow and I are both in awe of the wisdom and beautiful spirit of those at Docudharma and The Big Orange and the great accomplishments of many here; we are learning from all of you.

 We all have gifts.  I think it appropriate we all honor each others gifts and share them in the threads.  What are your passions?  What wonderful things are you doing in your community?  It’s all valid, all important, and all worthy of accolades.


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  1. and community.

  2. I didn’t mean to disrupt your idea of the piece, but you were breaking the page.

    Maximum width == 500.

    In this case it wasn’t any single image, it was where there were three in a row.

    If you have a too big image you can add width=”500″ to your <img src statement right after title=””.

  3. to bloom where you are planted.

    I too would love to be able to donate money to all the important issues, to travel to participate in meetings, gatherings and protests, to get to NOLA or wherever the need is for helping hands. But I can’t.

    What I do is talk to people here; family, neighbors and the people in line at the store. I put up my own little yard displays for important issues. It isn’t much but it’s what I can do given my circumstances.

    Thanks so much for this piece…for your words, the great quotes and the pictures!  

  4. I like how you tied in the show to a completely different viewpoint:

    It does not change our want to help where help is so desparately needed.  This was our dilemma.

    Yet out of that dilemma you came up with solutions, just like the TV show.

    I also don’t have a TV and haven’t watched it since 9/11.

    You do make a good case for SOME shows, though!  🙂

    • kj on December 8, 2007 at 3:10 am

    an essay like this, I just don’t know what to say.  

    A smile, a kind word–listening, if only for a few moments.  It makes the difference.

    It does!  And Thanks, I’ll pass it on.  @;-)

  5. Its exactly what I’ve been feeling over the last year or so. Sometimes I think its partly because we can be witnesses to so much suffering that we develop “compassion fatigue.” I know that is a problem for me sometimes. I get so overwhelmed at what is needed that I stop doing anything for want of a place to start. That’s when I need to do what you’ve done, slow down and take a look at what’s in front of me.

    At work, we started a tradition a few years ago of adopting a family for the holidays. This year, we’re taking on two – both families where the parents have died. In one, a couple of early 20’s siblings are trying to raise the other 5 kids. The other, a single mother with two kids of her own who is the aunt has taken in the 3 who have been orphaned. We ask these families what they want/need for the holidays. We hear things like pillows, socks, groceries, a vacuum cleaner…its enough to break your heart. This is what the holidays mean for them…the basics. Anyway, its the most rewarding thing I do all year. I know it doesn’t fix all that’s wrong, even with these two families. But its a damn good place to start.  

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