Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Lengths We Go

Blogger's Note: Before I go further on this, let me say that my own political views on the current administration are not a part of this post, as I am uninterested in entering that blogosphere. However, I am writing about something on my mind that is of a political nature -- and I hope you'll pass over that in appreciation of the larger message. There are plenty of folks who fill cyberspace with their thoughts on Iraq, etc. For now, I'm content filling it with poopy diapers, chemotherapy humor and the occasional smart-ass remark. - VD

In an open letter on her blog on Memorial Day, anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan announced her retirement from protesting the Iraq War. While her choice to step back is wrought with her own political opinions on the state of our country, I have been thinking a great deal about her decision as a parent to retire from work she has dedicated her life to on behalf of her now deceased son.

Whether you love her or hate her for the stance she's taken on the war, at the end of the day this was a parent who was trying to do her best for her children. Whether or not she succeeded, or even if it was the right thing to do, is something she can only know in her heart. However, her decision to step back and focus on her family, her health, and other ways to remember her son, leave me thinking about my own experience on two fronts.

First, I am the parent of a child who could lose his life to Cancer. I wear my required yellow wrist band, and we now shuttle off to various events to raise awareness or funds for cancer treatment and research. But, how much of myself should/can/will I dedicate to the "cancer cause"? In choosing to become a "voice to the experience", one commits to a deeper, long-term relationship with whatever unpleasantness you're against.

Of course, it's easy to dedicate yourself to a cause if you're not already dedicated to others, which is my second issue. Today I spoke with a colleague in my field who is tired. I speak to a lot of folks in my field that are tired. Non-profit, social-justice activities are a drain on the mind and spirit -- particularly in a country that has abdicated most of it's social service responsibility to the non-profit sector without matching that direction with funds to sustain anything meaningful in the long term (wait, was that political? There I go....). People with passion for their cause, with creativity and talent, so often retreat in some combination of disgust, sadness and burnout from the work and, like Cindy references in her blog, feeling like they've failed.

I too am tired, as I've stated before. Granted, I've got other reasons to be wiped out emotionally, but I just wonder how far I'll be willing to go (or continue to go) to make the world a better place -- before I throw my hands in the air and say, "fuck it -- I'm going to work for Starbucks".

As parents, we say we'd do anything for our children. But at what cost? And what's the limit?

8 comments:

Papa Bradstein said...

Those are all excellent and hard questions that you ask at the end. I don't believe that any us knows until we are confronted with the situation, just as none of us believed that we could get up six times in one night to clean up someone else's crap while he screams at us.

Perhaps the fatigue that you describe, and that I feel, is a product of my increasing age, or my declining wisdom. Whatever the cause, I try to look at the positive result--I'm forced to focus my energies (depleted as they are) on fewer causes. Rather than spending lots of little bits of energy on lots of causes, I now spend most of my energy on very few causes.

Part of that change is due to fatigue, but I've accelerated it a bit, hoping that perhaps I can have a greater effect on the causes that matter to me if I dedicate more energy to them--and am better focused and rested when I come to them.

Pat said...

Oh my goodness, Vampdaddy, you have done it again. Since our clan first came into the Vamp Family's lives, I have been constantly amazed at how many times we find ourselves on the same wavelength as you and yours. And Papa Bradstein, too, it would seem. This recent blog entry has certainly hit close to home. Most recently our clan finds itself walking a very similar path as you, asking the same questions, searching for the energy to continue to make a difference, making the often torturous decisions to let go of the many causes that are dear to us, in order to continue to make a small dent in support of the few that we know we simply cannot turn away from. We, too, are questioning where will we be in the next few months and years and will we be able to continue to face the overwhelming challenges of actually making a small ripple in what has grown to be an ocean of need in the non-profit sector.

Sigh.......(this is a very weary sigh)

Hopefully, this, too, shall pass

Pat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat said...

PS: Remember to ask Meagabuck about the parallel universe you two are living in with regards to the suggestion of "throwing ones hands in the air and saying, "fuck it -- I'm going to work for Starbucks".

Fez said...

Dear VD -

I'm afraid you have already worked for Starbucks so that option is not a new haven. I know because I often think of this myself and come to the same conclusion...

You and I are in similar fields. I can't imagine being a parent in this work, let alone a parent with a serious illness. This work is designed to make us tired.

Your questions are personal ones but, for me, I might say that I give all I can to my loved ones and give what remains to my passions. However, making peace with that equation is not necessarily easy.

Love,
Fez

Anonymous said...

Vampdaddy,
Life can be very exhausting... especially in your occupation and then dealing with a sick child on top of it all. ALthough sometimes you may not feel it or know it, you are making a difference...to so many people in this world, one person at a time! Hang in there! Share those good times with as many people as you can. With every entry, every smile, and every bit of advice you give, you make a difference. Love and Miss you Guys! Aunt Anna

Francesca Giessmann said...

Hi vampdaddy: sorry you felt ill and I am happy is nothing serious.
Just wanted to wish you a Happy Fathers Day!
Hope the vampfamily is well and little vampboy can enjoy some of the delights of summer.
take care
francesca

Anonymous said...

It seems like that happy day will never come... But then you have to remind yourself that every moment one child is saved from an abusive family or a family has food to eat for a change you can look at each miracle and realize that you have changed the world one small-slow step at a time. I know its hard(not that I can say anything)but its importent for me to see people like you continue to make the strides in the social service field after all I soon will be joining the crazy, hectic field. Like one of my favorite quotes states- A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step....unfourtunatly you have taken several steps and still there is a thousand more!
I love you to pieces! Cheer up!
I will see you Tuesday if your still going to the meeting next week!
~Mayghen