Monday, September 3, 2012

In defence of caring

The world doesn't need another bleeding heart, but here I am anyway.

I suffer from soap-box syndrome and an overdose of idealism. I get into arguments, I get all arked up, my blood runs hot and quick when I read headlines that scream Stop The Boats or hear people talk about Queue Jumpers or watch a whole conversation revolve around Us Versus Them. When what I'm really angry about is rhetoric, what I'm mad about is opinion, what I'm shaking my head and stamping my feet and internally combusting over is values.

There is no famine of issues in the world, no drought of wars, no cease fire of reasons to feel angry, torn and helpless at life's bitter injustices. All you have to do is tune into a news bulletin, pick up a book, rent a movie or a documentary and it's there. Sex slavery, poverty, war, natural disasters, mass murder, take your pick.

There are endless cliches about westerners and all of us here in the first world, being changed, being heart broken, being shattered and devastated and moved to action by children too skinny to be real, stories too sharply horrifying to have taken place. A friend of mine went to Cambodia and saw ever briefly a collage of a country, shredded by war and being haphazardly pieced together. Another friend, a young medical student travelled to East Africa where familiar images, swarms of large-eyed children with finger-sized-wrists became smooth flesh and warm, pulsating blood.

And then you come back home, stumped and mute. Where to from here? Back to hot showers and $4.00 coffees, complaints about the accent of our prime minister or the latest reality TV show disaster on Channel 10. Back to vietnamese rolls and fleeting gossip, tedious facebook updates and a knee jerk reaction to everything that used to be.

Why do we go through this and why do we care? What is the point of walking a corridor you know can steal away your comfort and open secret doors you'd prefer sealed shut? Because one more bleeding heart is one less clenched fist. Because we're born human, are people, first and foremost. Because you can't come face to face with another persons humanity and not be moved.

Which is why there are not for profits and social enterprises popping up on every corner, like the dot com boom in silicon valley, the bleeding hearts are setting up shop trying to appease first-world guilt and make sense of past experience. These approaches have issues in and of themselves, and development experts have a lot to say about amateurs with good intentions trying to save the "poor brown people". But it starts here, with the glass wall shattering so you can step on through to the other side.

I am speaking about the reason we shouldn't shy away from caring about shit that is real. I've stood through enough rolled eyes and 'yeah, yeahs' to know that I'm not the first bleeding heart and I won't be the last. People care, and that's inherently a good thing. It's not enough, but it's where is starts.


  1. Grace, I so love your writing. I read it and think "wow, I thought I was the only one". Glorious, please keep it up. Clare

  2. Thanks Clare, you're definitely not the only one! Sometimes it feels like I'm writing to myself but I'm happy to know I've got a few readers like you x