Meanwhile, I know several beautiful, strong women who have fought or are fighting breast cancer--women raising children and running homes and being wives and even holding jobs, all without a single servent or wealthy parent to help pick up the bills. And they're never in the paper at all. Neither is the woman I met a few years back who lived hand to mouth all the time because she spent all of her spare money--and some that wasn't spare--trying to save just one more abandoned animal and find it a good home (she's the one who sold Gracie to me, and I wished I could have taken 10 more). I haven't seen a single article in any paper about the moms who listen to, cry over, laugh with, and angst about their kids, and never stop showing up even when the showing up is hard. Even when the kid is a sullen teenager who keeps pushing them away with one hand and pulling them back with the other.
I'd like to see a magazine or a newspaper or a tv news clip about the ordinary miracles--the police officers who keep fighting the rising tide of crime even when the wave seems to be 11 stories tall and anything they can do is like a spit in the ocean, and they are abused daily by the very citizenry they're risking their lives to protect. The mom on the playground who watches every kid like a hawk because she knows in her heart that it's a village, it HAS to be a village, no matter what society says. The busy executive who mows his elderly mother's lawn every week without being asked or taking a thing in return.
There's a TV show that interviews different actors and they always ask a variety of questions suggested by the audience, as well as a handful of stock questions that every guest gets. One of them is "What is your favorite word?" I like a lot of words--compassion, gentle, tender, free, lullaby. But my favorite, once I've thought about it long and hard, is still "mercy". I love that word. We tend to think of it in judicial terms--the granting of mercy to someone who has done wrong. That's only part of the picture, though. It can also mean "an act of compassion or kindness." I'd go further and say that to show mercy is to try on the heart of another person, to wear their pain for a minute or a day, and to remember that pain and let it drive you to try to heal it or soothe it or ease it for even a second.
I admire people who know about this, who know how to find the quality of mercy in themselves--whether it is mercy for homeless animals or for a stranger's child on a playground. Or even for the family that needs them and so they soldier on through a horrible illness even when it would be easier to give up--I think that's a kind of mercy. And I want to hear more about this. I want to read about those people who are extraordinary in their ordinariness. I want to open the paper each day and read that someone was newsworthy because they gave of their heart or their hands or whatever they might have had because it was the right thing to do and because it fed their soul to do it. I don't to open the paper and read that the press trampled one another to take a picture of a pitiful, sobbing heiress who lives a 2 dimensional photograph of a life where pain is something that happens to other people. Why do we care about this?
It will be a great day when the most important, newsworthy people don't give a damn whether their works are noticed are not, because it isn't about that. It's about doing the right thing, about caring for someone else more than yourself for a few minutes, about remembering that not one of us is an island unto ourselves--we all need each other. I'm not giving up on that day....but papers like today's give me more than a spasm of grief.