Tears Are Not Enough

by Susan Pogorzelski on April 4, 2011 · 19 comments

We can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough
– Bryan Adams, “Tears Are Not Enough”


Let me break it down for a minute
If there’s enough room here for you and me
There’s plenty of room for some humanity

Everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Together we can all be strong
– All-Star Tribute, “What’s Going On” –

This past Friday, I had a Twitter exchange with a fellow blogging friend regarding this website’s new feature of highlighting a charity and the cause for which it stands. Its intent is to build awareness and is less about promoting the charity itself but more to facilitate an understanding and a knowledge where perhaps both were lacking. It’s my personal belief that awareness is the first step towards activism, the first step towards creating a change, because without those facts and personal experiences, without that knowledge, you have willful ignorance. And how can things change for the better if people don’t know enough to make that change, if they remain in their comfort zone of the same?

My intent was to build awareness via the only gift I have — through words, through the story, through connecting the cause to life.

Now I wonder how it could ever be enough.

I respect and admire the ever-love out of Akhila, a woman who’s heart is as caring as they come, with a profound desire to see positive change manifest in this world. She is incredibly smart and sympathetic, and her purpose spills forth in everything she does, particularly on her blog about social justice: Justice For All.

So, as someone I admire when it comes to philanthropy, when she mentioned the website Good Intentions (dot) org and respectfully inferred that even the best intentions have their fallback, I was a little more than crestfallen…

To realize that good intentions are never enough.

To realize that enough is never enough.

To realize that any ripple I create will never be the wave of change I wish to see.

The exchange has haunted me since, making me wonder if I shouldn’t be doing more, wondering how I could do more…

…wondering if the small steps matter at all.

There’s so much in this world that touches my heart, so much that conversely disgusts me. There’s so much in this world that I wish I could change, so much that I know I can’t do on my own: I wish the wars would end in the Middle East; I wish the bloodshed would end at home. I wish all animals had a place to call home; I wish the homeless had a home to turn to. I wish children kept their innocence, I wish women had a voice; I wish education was a right and not a privilege; I wish equality meant more than its definition.

I wish…I wish.

The list could go on and on and on and I don’t know where it would stop.

I wish for these things. As a humanitarian at the core, no, wait, as a human being, I believe in these things. I long to see peace; I long to see an end to suffering. The cruelty in this world, cruelty at the hands of another human being, one of our own — our brother, our sister, our mother, our father, our children — is so overwhelming. Day after day we read of the horrors  — so much tragedy and trauma inflicted by our own hands that it feels like we can suffocate from it all, drown in it all.

Day in and day out we’re so bombarded with the negative that we forget about the good…

The good that rests in these charities, in people like Akhila who have their causes and ceaselessly fight for them.

And maybe it even rests in people with good intentions. People who know they can’t change the whole world, but who begin by changing their own corner of it. People who understand that there are problems in every nation, but also tragedies that hit closer to home, becoming personal.

People like Sam, who walks for Alzheimer’s Awareness in memory of her grandmother, so that she can honor a loved one whose own memory was stolen by a disease for which there is not yet a cure…or understanding. A disease that robs loved ones of their own loved ones, of everything that makes up their life, so that they become a shell of who they once were, unaware of what is happening while those who hold their hand, those they can’t remember, are all too aware.

People like Ken, who has devoted his social media and marketing business to working primarily with non-profits and small businesses, whose outreach in the local community has helped those all over the world through the promotion and organization of fundraising events and awareness via the “Others First” series on his own blog.

Or people like Brenda, who organizes the annual Keepin’ It Kevin: Team Sarcoma fundraiser in honor of her late husband, who talks about grief and widowhood and is a constant inspiration to others to not let their own grief and loss overcome them. When grief and loss is so personal, when loss is a tragedy in its own right…

There are thousands of causes that touch our hearts for one reason or another; thousands of changes we wish to see in the world and thousands of wishes we could make to see them come true.

Thousands of curses to scream when anger and disgust at these realities make our blood boil; thousands of tears to shed when we cry for an end to the cruelty and  pain, cry for those who could never shed a tear themselves…

When we cry for peace — for world peace, for individual peace.

How do we choose just one cause? How do we discount all others? How do we survive, for ourselves, when we’re fighting for so many?

Are any of these causes less worthwhile? Is one greater than another; are we somehow less of a human being for choosing one cause to fight for — one cause that becomes so personal that it moves us to activism in its wake — over the other? Do we fight against the problems of the world and ignore those that reside in our own homes, sometimes in our very selves?

I don’t believe our heart aches any less for a homeless dog or a homeless person; I can’t believe that our heart bleeds any more over news of genocide in Africa or the murders in a hometown. I just can’t justify the belief that it’s an either/or equation.

It just is.

It all has to change, and why can’t we be the change for it.

For all of it.

One person can’t fix the world. Not on their own, no matter who they are, not without breaking or drowning themselves in the process.

Maybe that’s why we all have our own causes, the ones that touch our hearts, the ones we shed our tears over, the ones that become so personal that we can’t believe others don’t feel the same way, the ones that make us want to build that awareness so that others can understand not only why it touches you so, but to encourage their participation, their own efforts for change.

Maybe that’s why I’ve started this feature. I learned a long time ago that I can’t be the activist — the person — I wish I could be…not yet. And I can’t tell you how much that follows me every day.

And I  may not be able to contribute to every cause I wish to in the way I long to…

But that doesn’t mean you’re not doing your part…the parts that add up to a whole.

Maybe it all counts, maybe it all matters.

Maybe it’s that first ripple that creates the wave.

Maybe it’s the many small steps that add up to the biggest footprint.

Maybe having good intentions really isn’t good enough…

…maybe enough is never enough.

But maybe it’s a start.

And maybe that start is the start of something.

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