I choose to believe that yes, it does. In fact, it makes such a tremendous difference not only in our lives, but to everyone we encounter, that I think it must be the single most important thing we can do.
We can care. Even when it hurts, and sweet Lord, it hurts SO much to care sometimes. Like you, I am horrified by the plight of civilians in the Middle East and Africa. I am overcome with rage at the stories of injustice, violence, cruelty, and selfishness. Like you, I want to turn away from the truth, that there are worse things than beheading which ISIS is doing to children. The other evening I asked my husband, bitterly and petulantly, "Is there anything we can do about ISIS? Because I really don't want to hear anymore about what they are doing to people if there's nothing that can be done to stop them. It's just too much."
I don't know if there is anything we can do to stop them. Maybe an international force is the answer, but we are far away from reaching any sort of consensus on that. In the meantime, what can be done about ISIS? What can I, as a suburban housewife with four kids and a little blog, do about one of the most violent and terrible threats of our generation?
So little. I can care. I can teach my children to care. I can encourage others to care.
From that, perhaps a tiny spark is lit. Some glimmer of solidarity that could lead to action. Maybe not right this moment, but someday. Because what's the alternative? Further isolation? Compartmentalization? A culture of apathy that says the world has always been thus, and shall always be thus, and it's someone else's problem, not mine? As Philip Yancey so eloquently stated:
"The strongest argument in favor of grace is the alternative, a world of ungrace. The strongest argument for forgiveness is the alternative, a permanent state of unforgiveness."Thus the strongest argument for caring is the alternative, a permanent state of indifference. The greatest crimes against humanity are committed by those who do not respect the dignity of human life. If we don't wish to lose our humanity, we must care.
And if we care, we must act. Which leads me again to the original question: What can I do?
I am so small. It feels that anything I do is so insignificant that it's hardly worth the effort. Moments like these, I am inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux because she acknowledged her own humility and weakness, but never let it stop her from doing what God called her to do. She said,
"Merit does not consist in doing or giving much. It consists in loving much."
In other words, it consists in caring. If you believe, AS I DO BELIEVE!, that prayer is a way to love those we cannot love in any other way, then please pray with me this coming week: that the native forces fighting ISIS will resist the temptation to retaliate against citizens belonging to different sects or religions. I am trying to offer up my own desire to retaliate (when my kids are defiant, when I am wrongly accused, when someone cuts me off in traffic, etc.) for this intention.
If the most that happens is that I spend my time "turning the other cheek" then I can say two things: I cared, and I did something about it.