A Mother’s love is [a] dangerous, revolutionary love that unites our one human family and reminds us that we belong to each other and that there is no such thing as other people’s children.
The Compassion Collective
Are we enough to fix this world? Are we enough to make it sane? Are we enough for our children and all children?
As a new working mom I try to repeat to myself every day that I am enough. The guilt can gnaw at you until you are frazzled and feel like a total failure. We can go to bed every night thinking we could have done more. We didn’t cross off enough items on our to-do list. We didn’t clean the house enough. We didn’t cook enough for the following days. We didn’t spend enough time with our children, we weren’t there enough. We didn’t give enough attention to our other-half, we didn’t read enough. We didn’t accomplish enough. We didn’t change the world.
I spend a consistent portion of my days trying to make sure Max has “enough”. That he has enough love, that he has the right combination of food (a way more balanced diet than my own), that he has enough attention, enough play, enough sleep, enough milk. It’s like a calculator on auto-pilot that runs laps at the back of my mind.
I try to give him the childhood that I wish for him, to give him a reason to laugh every day. So I tell myself that it is enough. That I am doing my best.
But there is an awful voice nagging me, sometimes quietly, sometimes rudely, that No, it’s not enough. Because I am a part of the system that is destroying our world.
I used to work in a field where everyone was doing their part to change our world for the better. Better food, safer water, cleaner air, the right kind of energy. Often it was rewarding, winning our battles, small but significant. Seeing true commitment and energy from everyone who believed in what we were doing. But because all real fights are tough, it was also incredibly frustrating. I chose to leave that behind for a while to write and travel. To be lighter. We needed to see the world that we are trying so desperately to change. And we found a world full of compassion, kindness and hope. In the places where you expect it least. The world we were trying so hard to change was actually rather amazing.
Since staying longer in one place, we are once again getting pulled into a heavy cycle of “reality”. The frightening reality painted by negative news cycle after negative news cycle. Of stories that I cannot even bring myself to repeat. The optimism and faith in people that I built from our travels is slowly being picked at, threatened by constant stories of the world going into freefall.
We have been raised to make intelligent decisions, we have been given the tools to gather information and block out the white noise. We are the lucky ones. And yet, we are not doing enough.
I am not doing enough to make sure the world Max grows up in is better than the one we have now. If we only look at what is happening within the four walls that surround us, maybe we are enough. If we look at our neighbourhood and community, maybe we are enough. If we look at our country even, maybe we are enough. But we are failing our world. Our children’s world.
I look at Max crawling around, oblivious to the outside world, happy to be chewing on a plastic shovel. And I imagine him under a pile of rubble from a bombed building, his skin grey and caked with blood; I see him drowning in rough waves along the coast of Greece or attacked in school by a mad gunman. I see him having to defend himself from racist attacks, I see him drinking from a dirty stream because there is no longer any clean water.
And no I have not done enough. Because this is our world. This is the world in which we are raising our children and we have not done enough.
I have been pushing the idea for years that everyone can do their small part, that we can all recycle, sign a petition, try to live a cleaner life, vote and donate or volunteer for those who have less. Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, and we should continue helping and continue doing our part. Every small act has value; every positive change you can bring to someone’s life has importance. It is also the idea that has kept the powerful, powerful. Let us continue doing the macro, while you busy yourselves with the micro.
And I am incredibly proud and inspired by everyone doing the micro. Everyone doing their part to shape the discourse, to pressure governments into action, to stop the destructions of corporations, to change the small things that make a big difference.
But it is not enough.
I left to travel and write. I wrote about culture, about people, about food, about identity. But sometimes we need to write about the difficult, the ugly, the things that don’t make you dream, but force you into action.
I don’t have the answers. But I know that this cannot continue. I do not want to simply donate to help refugees, to donate to help the Syrian Civil Defense have better equipment to dig up dead children from rubble, I do not want to watch the US presidential debate and sit with my mouth wide open, “did that just happen?!”
I want it all to stop.
We are not doing enough. Because this is not the world that my baby can grow up in. This is not the global society that I want my son to belong to, this is not the planet I want to leave to him.
And yes, there must be something we can all do, because we are the lucky ones. Stop and Think. We have the tools, we have been equipped with the knowledge and power to make it all end. If enough of us care. If enough of us are ready to make the sacrifices necessary to bring around real change, because alone, we are not enough.