What to do for Japan

The first one: a little rough.

In the face of such great damage and personal tragedy it’s hard to know what to do and how to give. The flurry of news, being able to witness what was happening first hand from eyewitness accounts and every news outlet, made me feel helpless. And even though I have experience with strategic philanthropy I still get the feeling that I’m too far away for my $25 to make any sort of difference. Logically I’m thinking, there’s still work to be done in Haiti, as there is still work to be done in New Orleans … pick something to care about and stick with it. It feels fickle, jumping on the disaster bandwagon when there is still recovery work to be done in other areas. I realize life doesn’t work this way; this is how systems play out, reverberating against each other. You don’t get to solve one problem before another arises. Yet it contributes to the feeling of helplessness: are we just running around putting out fires or are we changing the way fires are started and dealt with? I have compassion fatigue. It’s shutting me down and my money feels like the last thing that would help. I want to bring a casserole and a blanket, do the things that connect me as a human being.

So when I care deeply and I feel helpless, do I write a check? Whether that check actually makes a difference on the ground or the action simply makes me feel better shouldn’t negate the fact that I did something. Right? I think about giving with intention, which at its root is acting with intention. The simple act of doing something mindful directs energy toward the problem. I can’t show up with a casserole and a blanket, but I can write a check. And if writing a check doesn’t feel like the right response there are many other ways to direct my energy with intention. I was impressed with the campaign to fold paper cranes (this is a great site, love the creativity of young’uns!), and so, to keep my hands busy and my mind focused in prayer for those suffering, I started to fold.

Sometimes I wonder how having the world this connected (allowing us to emotionally participate in all the grief that’s fit to print) is changing us. Will it deepen our ability for compassion? Or to the realization that the lines we draw on a map are arbitrary? It’s given me the chance to think about how I can channel my sadness and fear. What action will do the most good? Right now its in folded bits of paper.

**Here’s a great pdf guide to folding your own paper cranes!**

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