You know those funny little segments on Jay Leno where they prove just how uninformed the American public is by asking random strangers on the street if they know the name of the Speaker of the House, or who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?  My worst nightmare is that I would be one of those unfortunate interviewees, that I would stumble over answers to embarrassingly simple questions about our nation or current events, and then people would cringe as the facade I maintain of being well-rounded, well-informed, ‘in the know’ is shattered.  I am married to a man that checks the New York Times headlines on his iPhone before he even gets out of bed in the morning, and although I know he loves me unconditionally, I’m sure he shakes his head a little when he sees that I don’t catch the simplest of political jokes on 30 Rock, or that I scan the headlines of Us Weekly rather than Time when in line at the grocery store.  Yes, it’s true.  And so, in an attempt to stop being the person at the dinner table that is constantly steering the conversation away from anything to do with government or war or late-breaking news, I’ve been making a solid effort at enlightenment. I’m checking news websites, I’m asking questions, I’m scanning the Seattle Times rather than the pretty design magazines while getting my morning coffee in the kitchen at work.

I spent quite awhile last night going through the past month’s posts on Boston Globe’s Big Picture, scanning the amazing collections of photos that depict what is going on in the world at large.  And when I was done, rather than wanting to pin a gold star on my chest for being up-to-speed on the world’s latest happenings, I instead wanted to cry.  Had I known the pain that would shake my soul by seeing image after image of suffering, destruction, loss, and unrest, I probably would have chosen to go to bed early, saying a short-but-sweet prayer for Japan before I drifted off to sleep, thinking to myself that really, that was the best I had to offer.  I wouldn’t have been faced with the truth that I should also be pouring out prayers for Libya, as missiles fly overhead, and people tremble with fear as they flee their homes and hope their lives will be spared.  I wouldn’t have even known to pray for residents of Ivory Coast, where people are looting and killing wreaking havoc on the country over opposition to its leadership.  I wouldn’t have been shaken by the image of a father in Miyagi Prefecture weeping over his lost son as he kneels in the debris that was once his home.  So…now I know.  I know that I should be praying with fervor.  I know that I should be angry and saddened, full of compassion and desperation.  I know that I am undeservedly fortunate, with my warm home and my stable government, and my life full of so many comforts.  But I wish I knew how to bring peace to Libya, how to reunite a missing child with her grief-stricken parents, how to rebuild a city from absolute ruin.  There is so much more that I wish I knew.

One Comment

  1. Steve says:


    Not to take away from what you wrote but I’m amazed that you semi-quoted GI Joe. Amazing.