It's called life.

Today's forecast:
The sun is out. It'll be warm. Breezy. And here in Arizona, they'll be no natural disasters. No earthquakes or tsunamis. No violent twisters or ice storms. No Blizzards. If the nearest reactor leaks, it's far enough away from me. More than likely, nothing terrible will happen in my neighborhood today.  At least nothing newsworthy. But down the road, and across the great seas, many many things will happen. Good and bad. Mother's will lose babies. Fathers will lose sons. Villages will be destroyed. By Fire. Wind. Rain. Tyrannical maniacs. Disease. Somewhere, every minute of every day, something is happening that reminds us of our mortality. Our ability to cope. Our Survival skills. And our Compassion. Something happens every minute of every day that reminds us as well of our lack of humility. Our narcissism. Our selfishness. And our delusions of superiority.

So we build up our defenses. Emotional walls to help us deal with things we as humans aren't well- equipped to deal with.

As you comfortably watch all the horrific footage of today's latest world turmoil in the comfort of your home on your 60" flat screen, you see a man sitting on the curb, clothes torn and tattered, face freshly scarred, all his possessions tied in a neat bundle between his feet. Nowhere to call home. His life shattered. And you pick up your cell phone and text the number on the screen to donate. Then you feel better having helped to save the poor victim of a) Tsunami b) Earthquake c) Mid-East rebellion e) North American Blizzard. You can now proceed on with your life, guilt free. Good for you.

Except one thing. That man on the TV wasn't a victim of any of those things. He was the same man you saw downtown in front of the coffee shop holding a sign saying "will work for food" that you simply turned away from and kept on going. Why is it so easy for us to help a stranger in a far off land then in our own backyard. Is it because by connecting with that man in front of the coffee shop you risk acknowledging that it can happen to you? To your family? That wall we build up to protect ourselves means that by staying a safe distance from any given tragedy it won't impact us. By donating anonymously to that victim thousands of miles away, we can keep our emotional distance....and ignore the reality in front of us. It enables us to actually entertain the thought that it could not happen to us. He brought it on himself. He's not a victim. Because if he's a victim, you could be next. And that's just not something any of us wish to face.

It strikes me that this trait is incredibly obvious in today's politicians. Particularly here in Arizona. How could you vote to terminate transplants for the poor if you had even the remotest chance of being in that position yourself? You wouldn't. If you give money to the homeless, you might be acknowledging that perhaps it isn't their doing. Which means, yeah...it could happen to you. Unthinkable. And what's the big deal in education funding? If a senator's kids go to private school what he does to public school funding won't impact them. Though it's been said that if we leftist commies would allow vouchers, perhaps that money would find it's way back.

There was a sinkhole in Wisconsin the other day. I couldn't help wonder what if it had been the Governor's car that fell in there? Would the road crews simply stand there and gawk? Perhaps a few snickers? And if the Governor asked for help would they simply shrug and stay silent. After all, to negotiate a solution to pull out the car would be tantamount to Collective Bargaining. Which the Governor made very clear is unacceptable. Unless you are police or fire rescue. Then it's perfectly acceptable. Because not one politician in Wisconsin, or anywhere else, is insane enough to believe they could never be the victim of fire or crime.

I truly believe it's in our best interest as mere human beings to remember that that's what we are. Human. We don't have special powers or force fields protecting us from life. We all need to experience it, warts and all. Accepting our vulnerability does not make us weak. It makes us strong. It builds our character. And it enables us to experience all the joy that's out there. It's called life.

Every year at the holidays the bell ringers come out with their buckets, hoping to raise enough money for that big holiday dinner for the poor. Maybe additional money for some warm blankets and clothes. When my girls were little they'd scour my purse for change to drop in. My teenage daughter in the last few years has decided change isn't worth a dime. Pun intended. She goes for bills. And if I don't have any, she tells me to take an extra 10 out from the grocery bill. Then as shopper after shopper walks right on by looking anywhere but at the bell ringer, she puts it in the bucket. And while the smile on the bell ringer's face as she wishes her a happy holiday is beaming, ear to ear... and toothless...the smile on my daughter's face is priceless. She's not observing life. She's participating in every moment.  Good, bad and spectacular.

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