This World is on Fire

With any luck, the catchy Alicia Keys song is now stuck in your head…you’re welcome.

I stumbled across this graphic a few days ago in the New York Times, and it felt eerily appropriate for everything happening in our world right now: 05onfire1_xp-master768-v2

I think some of my friends thought I was referencing my personal life with this, but that isn’t the case. Between a ridiculous election, violence upon violence upon pointless violence, and working in a field where I experience pain and death every day, I can’t help but question how the majority “we” can still be consumed with orange spray tans and Fall Fashion and spend millions of dollars on movies about animated weiners while people are suffering and dying in front of our eyes.

I realize my world is colored, if not painted red, by the field I have chosen in which to work. I get that I can be sort of a Debbie Downer at dinner parties but I tend to bring up topics like how the brain is affected by trauma and how high sex trafficking statistics have risen in the past year or ten. Even my incredibly patient significant other has to remind me to take off my “therapist hat”.

But isn’t there a balance to being aware of, and taking action in, all of the fires that are burning around us and still enjoying the lives we have been blessed to live? I can’t help but look at a $750 chair in a home goods store and wonder how many people could be fed and housed for a week with that money. When I go see an action movie in the theaters, I question just how many impoverished neighborhoods could be served with that chunk of millions.

A few weeks ago, I took the girls I live with to 7/11 after a recovery group meeting. Everyone got to pick out a couple of treats. People, you would have thought Christmas and the lottery had happened at the same time. We aren’t talking a shopping spree at Saks here. We are talking good ol’, late night, Thank Heaven for 7/11. Half the customers that evening weren’t even wearing shoes!

I grew up in a rather affluent city. I never missed a meal, questioned where I would sleep, or wondered if I would have shoes the next day. We weren’t wealthy, but I was in a high school sorority for crying out loud. I find it harder and harder to be around wealth now, even more so than I did then, because my brain now automatically goes to how many people could be fed/clothed/treated with the cost of that Restoration Hardware table.

So where’s the balance? I know it isn’t wrong for people to have money and own nice things. We need wealthy people who fund ministry and non-profits and make good work happen! I am not pushing for commune living where the wealth has to be spread among everyone regardless of who earned it; but where is our responsibility? Where is the balanced line between standing idly by while sipping a triple shot/no whip/no foam/organic cold brew while the world burns, as opposed to selling everything and living under the highway just to make a statement?

The world is on fire, and it isn’t fine.


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