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?