Some of us hear the Universe whispering. We're nudged to do something, to say something, to pay attention to something. We can ignore these, of course, but that doesn't mean the Universe stops trying. I find myself in a situation where I ignored the nudges that ranged from words jumping out at me from a novel to an encounter that forced me to act. I need to write this post. It's time. It's past time. I put it off at first because I was so upset, and ignored it for a while when my family was dealing with the flu. Wednesday, I found that these thoughts wouldn't leave me alone, and now, I must write.
It's always your responsibility. If you can see it or hear it, you are there to do something about it. The world is full of preventable disasters and evils that somebody saw and never did anything about, and it's time for that to stop. We all must accept a small burden of responsibility to change this world into to something healthier, something better, something more beautiful. It's time. We all can wait no longer. Things are bad, and nobody wants to see them get worse.
Nearly a month ago, my husband and dragged two of three kids to Target after I picked him up from work. One kid was feeling poorly, and the other was tired. The teenager was at a rehearsal for a play he was working. The store was full of tired, cranky people who kept getting in each other's way. It was pretty miserable, and I was looking forward to leaving. I was tired of inconsiderate people, coughing strangers, and whining kids.
While we were on the escalator down to the parking garage, I noticed a woman in blue sitting on a mobility scooter and rocking. Something about her was very, very off. People walked past her, in spite of her obvious distress. Watching, I realized that I needed to check. Nobody else was going to be bothered. She wasn't okay. She was in pain, scared, and seemed like she was not mentally okay. I stayed with her for a while, trying to figure out what was going on. I talked to her. I held her hand. I helped her calm down. She was lost and scared and wearing a hospital bracelet that made me suspicious that she may have been unethically discharged. Patient dumping isn't really that rare. I called an ambulance. She was in pain. She needed help, and it was too cold a night for her be wandering around without a coat.
While I was doing this, my husband was keeping the kids out of the way. A woman came up to him and asked him about what was happening. She'd noticed the woman on her way in, but she didn't do anything. She assumed I was a nurse until my husband corrected her. I 'm just a regular person who saw something that wasn't right and stepped in. Target's managers and security stood by whispering, obviously aware that the woman in blue had been down there a while, but they never even asked me what was going on. It was their responsibility, and they were dancing around, fidgeting. It made me feel icky in a way I can't explain. The paramedics showed up a couple minutes later, and I was waved off.
The car ride home was just long enough for me to go from concerned to annoyed to sad to angry. Tears in my eyes and shaking, I tried to wrap my head around how little the people in my community care about others. I'm saddened by the realization, and I was so angry that I couldn't talk about this for days to anyone but my husband.
My family had finished reading "A Hat Full of Sky" just a few days before this. A quote from it kept ringing in my head, and it did so again loudly as we left Target: "Even if it's not your fault, it's your responsibility." I've been thinking about these words frequently. We have a responsibility to each other to not ignore suffering, to help where we can, to contribute to the world through whatever means are available to us. It's the only way we will feel full. It is what counts.
So, I'll end with this: It is always you. You are the person who can do something. If you can see something wrong, you can start to change it by acknowledging it. You can perform this incredible, brave magic, and it is your responsibility to act, even if the act seems insignificant. Doing something is far better than doing nothing. Maybe we can't change things all at once, but we can start fight indifference by embracing our power, our agency, our sovereignty over our lives and pushing back against apathy.