I have never known true fear. I know that sounds odd. I have known fear that I won’t get the marks I want on exam. I am terrified of snakes. I have been frightened by other people pulling a prank. But I have never known the stool softening, completely debilitating fear. My father was in a plane crash once many years ago and my family feared for his life. By the time I was told about the crash my family had found my father and he was alive. All I remember feeling is numb. Having never experienced such an event, I had no idea how to react. The first thing I did was burst into tears. When I got a look at myself in the mirror I smartened up. I know for some people in this world living in a constant state of abject fear IS a way of life. I have read about such fear and I have seen it in movies. But I have never experienced it.
You see I have led a charmed life. I grew up surrounded by family and friends who loved me and protected me. I live in a country that has not known war on its shores in my lifetime. While I have known hunger it was simply because of my pride. I was in university and I ran out of money. I knew that there was a check coming and I expected it in about four days. I was too proud to tell anyone that there was no food in my cupboard. So I survived the expected four days on beef Bovril. It’s a soup substitute that is used in making gravy. I cannot get near the stuff now!
I may have known hunger but it is nothing in comparison to so much of the population of this world. There are people who don’t know if they’re going to eat this week! My fridge is full. My belly is full. My pantry is full of food. Why am I so blessed?
I don’t know. But I do know that I have responsibilities to those who are less fortunate than I am. I give what I can regularly. It’s the least I can do. I may have an itty bitty incurable disease but I am protected. There are children who lose limbs today because of bombs that were left over from wars years ago.
No matter what complaint we have, somewhere, someone is in much worse shape than we are. Somewhere, someone is watching their life blood seep through a gaping wound, alone and frightened. Somewhere, someone is watching as a loved one slowly succumbs to a painful and deadly disease. A woman is raped and beaten, killed. A man is shot dead by a stranger for his empty wallet. A woman feels the hands of a lover on her throat tightening. Children are shot by children, men and women are tortured, planes crash, people are dying of hunger, disease and greed.
You have a choice. I have a choice. We can give in, be victims and wallow in our own self-pity. Or we can take what quality of life we have, embrace it, relish it, enhance it if we can, and live. I want to live. I will live. I am living.