It would be stating the obvious to say that we're all a bit broken-hearted these days.
Tens of thousands of people are dead in Japan. Christchurch is in upheaval. Qaddafi is attacking his own people. House Republicans just voted to repeal millions of dollars in funding that provide contraceptives, HIV testing and cancer screening to millions of women. The Wisconsin governor just removed all public workers' collective bargaining rights.
I have been actively avoiding television and newspapers. Looking at those photos fills me with such a deep sense of fear and sadness, I almost cease to function. Hurricane Katrina and 9-11 were the same. I remember taking my bike out for a ride along an empty prairie highway after I heard about the planes, wondering at how life could possible go on after something like this. I made apple butter that day and stood over the stove stirring, oddly ashamed of myself.
Intellectually, I know that horrible, shocking things happen. Such is the nature of life. My parents grew up during a time when people actually built bomb shelters in their backyards because nuclear war was a real possibility. Chernobyl happened. The Great Depression happened. Heidi Montag's album happened.
But this knowledge doesn't make the heartbreak any easier. I'm sure most of us are struggling with a lingering sense of guilt that we are lucky enough to be alive and healthy. Lucky enough that our main 'problems' are what to fix for dinner tonight, our slightly annoying co-worker and losing those last five pounds.
What can we do?
Is there a right answer to this? I suspect the only answer is to send our money and thoughts in the direction of those affected by these catastrophes. In a few months, I might also pop down to Christchurch and do my best to spread my tourist dollars around to any and all businesses that are open.
How do you deal with catastrophe - ignore it? cry? get angry? get involved? donate and don't think about it any more?