Too Close For Comfort

9922247156_416ec698b0_kMy 15 year-old daughter hates when I write anything without her approval and her editorial input. (For the record, she is an awesome editor.)

But sometimes she’s involved in something so much bigger than her or her editing skills that I am compelled to write without her approval.

This is one of those times.

To fully understand this story, you have to understand my daughter.

She is the girl who cares about every single living being and will always root for the underdog. She is the child who Googled how to provide emergency care for a baby squirrel and made me drive to the drug store to buy Pedialyte and a medicine dropper so she could save the one our cat dragged in.

She makes me buy tofu because it never breathed, can’t enjoy shrimp because they used to swim freely in the ocean and notes that every hamburger was once a cow.

And that same love of every creature is why she saved a cicada that was struggling on the sidewalk.

We were walking our German Shepherd when I heard her gasp and tell me to stop.

“He’s struggling,” she said pointing at the cicada on its back with legs flailing helplessly in the air.”I need to help him.” (Personally, I have absolutely no idea how to tell a male cicada from a female cicada so I went with  her assumption that the cicada was a guy.)

Kendall nudged “the guy” with her shoe so he could grab onto it.

And grab on he did.

Once he had flipped himself upright on her canvas shoe, he began to slowly make his way up toward the laces.

And that’s when the screaming started.

“Get him off!” my daughter screamed. “Get him off.”

The piercing quality of her screams gained urgency because I wasn’t acting quickly enough.

By the time the cicada’s tiny, spindly legs had begun to make their way up my daughter’s bare legs, I was convinced that one of the neighbors was calling 911 to report a murder in progress.

When I finally did locate a stick (because I didn’t want to actually touch the bug either), my daughter was almost in a state of panic. Thankfully, I was able to get the cicada onto the stick and then safely onto the grass.

Kendall almost immediately admitted her shame at not wanting to actually touch the bug she was trying to save.

I told her that was natural and she shouldn’t worry, but I couldn’t help but compare that situation to ones I witness almost every day.

I work at a social service organization with a mission of improving the lives of others, particularly those living in poverty.

On a regular basis, I see the generosity of others to help the less fortunate. And not a day goes by when I’m not in awe of individuals who don’t run screaming when they realize that a simple financial donation isn’t enough to raise people out of poverty.

Does the money help? Absolutely!

Is it the answer? Absolutely not!

While there will always be individuals in situational poverty who just need that one financial boost to get them back on the right track, most of the people who walk through my office doors aren’t on any track at all. Instead, they are stumbling through an obstacle course of life designed by people who live in a world that is foreign to them.

Some of them don’t understand the importance of education. Others were taught that arguing and fighting is the only way to get what they want. And some have never even experienced the security of being a priority to parents, caregivers or anyone else who wants nothing in return but their well-being.

Letting such individuals people into our lives can be difficult and frightening. As my daughter stated after the incident with the cicada “My screaming didn’t indicate I didn’t want to help, but I just freaked out when he actually touched me.”

I understand her sentiment, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t step outside of our comfort zones.

Saving a life – whether it is that of a bug or that of another human being – often requires us to do just that. It can get messy and dirty and sometimes even scary.

But if we really want to change the world, we have to touch the world we want to change.

 

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on September 5, 2016, in My life, people, perspective and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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