I was a volunteer at an online free teen support hotline last year.
We started the morning with a “check in” circle. You know: Where we’re supposed to tell each other how our week was going and how we’re feeling?
One volunteer told us how her basement had flooded the night before and she was feeling very depressed because she had lost her family photographs. They were gone forever, because there were no negatives or copies. Another worker spoke up with something like: “There are children in this city who have lost both parents to drugs or violence. They have no one to care for them, no food, no warm clothes, no place to sleep at night. And you’re feeling bad about some photographs?” Get the message? “Your feelings don’t matter. My high ideals are what matter; you only count when you’re doing what I think you should!”
These are the same kind of idealists who tell you you shouldn’t love your cat and buy food for him while there are people starving in Zambezi. I just don’t understand how doing without comfort really helps the planet.
I’d like to have a job doing something to make the world better, like helping the unfortunate or saving the environment. But I see too many caring people stuck in dead ends. They work long hours under terrible stress, for such low salaries that they can’t pay the rent on a one room apartment, let alone support a family. I’m afraid I’ll end up like my uncle: on Christmas he got a little tipsy and started crying. “I’m nearly 60”, he said, “and I’m a bitter, penniless wreck. Why didn’t somebody tell me to take care of myself?”
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