April 8th, 2003

8 Apr 2003, by

Everytime I want chocolate, which is more and more often as the Lent season progresses, I think about the war. I think about how I don’t have chocolate, but others don’t have electricity, shelter, food, water, homes, health, family. I still want chocolate then though my want seems trivial and easily mastered. I find myself hoping intensely that we don’t make a mess of the war’s aftermath. I’m hoping for it as hard as I was hoping for there not to be a war. I feel a little foolish dredging up new hopes to throw myself into, a little like someone who should know better than to think things can be alright after all this. Blood has been spilt on all sides and that seems so irrevocable to me. I wish, sometimes, that I was made of sterner stuff. Everything affects me. I resonate with the pain and suffering of people sharing the world with me. I have to will myself not to think about the people all over the earth who this instant are starving to death, dying of illness, suffering through horrifying tortures or I will collapse into tears and be completely unable to function. Maybe it’s a mental illness, to be so concerned about people I don’t know and who don’t know me, to sympathize so deeply with strangers. Then I wonder if the cure for my hyperempathy would not be worse than the sickness. How cut off would I feel from the universe and its denizens if I didn’t wish them all the good fortune and happiness that I experience? How lonely would I be if my heart didn’t ache for them, if I couldn’t cry when I saw their faces and heard their stories? I’m not sure what is wrong with me, if anything, or what is wrong with the world that people can starve and suffer and die when there is plenty of food, lots of warmth and love, and cures for so many of our ailments.

So I find myself hoping and hopeful, despite my sadness. Maybe this time we can bring more than harm. Maybe this time we can bring help, too. Maybe it’s not all a complete pipedream. Maybe people can have health and happiness, indeed maybe they can have enough of the bare necessities to long for freedom and fulfillment as well. Maybe people can have this in Iraq, and in every corner of the world.

These are the things I pray for and long for when I think about chocolate.

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