Mother Teresa said, ” If you can’t feed 100 people, feed just one.” I recently found this quote and I love it to bits and pieces. It relates to so much of what I try to tell people on an average basis with anything social justice related.
The reality is, the problems are so large. So large that they are crushing of soul and spirit in a world that seems to drone on and on saying “why should you care? Why should I care?” So when you’re a sensitive person and you feel it all anyways, the world can feel like a horrid place to live. Because you can’t help but see and care about people in poverty or people being abused, people starving or people hurting. It’s hurts sensitive people even when the it’s a pain and a prison largely built by a person’s poor coping choices. It feel unbearable when it’s a pain and a prison built by someone else that should be doing right, but for whatever reason is not doing right.
So for all you sensitives out there….or for all you people who want to care, but are worried you might become overwhelmed like those weirdo sensitives….I offer the wisdom of Mother Teresa.
We are bound by responsibilities in life. We can not get away from that. Budgets and limitations and time restraints. Those are very very real things. What I find the tendency is for people is to get so carried away that they go down three paths.
The first path is to amp up the responsibilities in life until there is no longer any room to care about whether there is one or one hundred people to feed/help/clothe/befriend. There is a pressure in the world that says, “take care of you and yours above all else”. While I applaud the notion to take care of yourself and your family, when a person devotes their life to self-care and care of family, they miss out on the joys of service, gratitude, humility. Sometimes this is borne out of a fear of it all becoming too much if they care even just a little. But as the mother says, “just feed one.” I would encourage anyone who feels like this describes their life to just take one tiny step out to help someone else. See where it leads. Explore it a bit. See what you learn. See how you grow.
The second path that is all too common is the person who cares about everything always. To not be able to turn off any of the suffering in the world is to live a somewhat debilitating life. In terms of stress response it’s the equivalent of freeze. There is no where to go. There is no where safe. There is no way to overcome all the things. And all the things are so huge there is no way to carry it all either. Again, for us bleeding hearts I offer the advice of the mother, ” feed just one.” In this instance it’s a wisdom that brings us back and centers us. The simple truth is no one person is ever able to hold in totality even one of the worlds problems. No matter which problem in the world is chosen, when it is truly parsed there is no one person or group that will solve it. It will be “solved” when the majority are committed to a path of health in that area. And in no way does that mean don’t try, or you’re off the hook. It means, realize your potential and your limitations. Because changing the world is a marathon not a sprint. So in the mean time, consider if you’re trying to feed one hundred but can only really feed one with the amount of resource that you have. And don’t listen to any messages of guilt be they from your own mind or from outside sources if you’re truly reflected and set up what you can do. Walk confidently in that and re-evaluate every so often to see if you can take up more.
The third path is those that have this innate wisdom already in large proportion. Honestly, to me they are an enigma. My mind screams, “you can care and not overwhelm yourself with caring???? How do you do that?” But I truly love these people. Whether they come at it because I have met them so far down their journey that they have already learned the life wisdoms or they are just a calm and reasonable person, I love having these people around me. They pick me up and carry me when my silly little obsessive mind gets the better of me. And they also kick me in the butt if I swing a little to the other side of trying not to care and just close ranks to me and mine. (Figuratively of course)
All in all I guess what I’m trying to say with the quote “If you can’t feed one hundred, feed one” is take some time, consider where your passion lies in being a solution. Then take a moment and consider what limitations are real and present in your life. And once you see the middle path of wisdom, where the need and limitations overlap, walk your path. I truly believe we need everyone everywhere walking a path of wisdom, but no one persons path will look exactly like anyone else. So ponder, find it and walk tall.