Monday, December 8, 2008

Introducing Your Next Super Hero: The Reluctant Empathiser

I have an unhealthy impulse to want to help all of mankind.

I'm usually quite capable of drowning it out most of the year when I'm preoccupied with my personal responsibilities, daily routine and instant desires. I mean who can think about saving the world when Nordstrom is having it's yearly half off sale or when you are at risk of having the dignity kicked out of you by an ornerous Professor and his deadly Socratic Method. I hate to admit it but the thought of starving children in Africa is kind of a downer when you are enjoying an expensive meal out on the town with your girlfriends.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday, my philanthropic intentions often get pushed to the side and forgotten unless the needs of others are brought directly to my attention. But the holiday season always seems to bring the needs of others (or at least what I PERCEIVE their needs to be) to the forefront. A force of nature constantly drums the back of my head- urging me to do something.

It's like I'm a super hero and my calling is to eliminate the sadness, disappointment, and pain that I perceive in the world. Minor problem: I'm doing a lot of perceiving and not a lot of eliminating. During the holidays I just can't seem to shut off my fountain of empathy. This makes me miserable because often times I lack the means, ability, or the guts to help. I didn't ask for this gift, mind you. It found me. I'm a RELUCTANT super hero.

When I visit my single friends with small children and see how hard they work, I have this heart tugging urge to anonymously send them things they need in the mail. When I found out that my mom was only giving my ten year old brother socks for St. Nicholas Day, I had to run to the nearest toy store, buy something amazing, and beg my mom to give it to him instead (when I was growing up my parents always put a small toy in our shoe on St. Nicholas Day and the thought of my brother finding a disappointing pair of socks was TOO MUCH TO BEAR).

One time in highschool, I saw a Maury episode featuring orphan teens. Ever since, I have been haunted by the fact that there are acne-ridden, hormone crazed teen with behavioral issues out there that need families! After the show, I think I paced around my room for an hour trying to figure out what I could do. Never mind that I was a teenager myself because, seriously, they needed MOMS. FAST. I had to do something! See how traumatizing my human empathy is? To this day Maury taunts me from the back of my mind.

The other day I read an article about how food stamps and WIC benefits are not keeping up with this year's food inflation. One woman told the reporter that she often had to go hungry so she coud afford to feed her young daughter. My mind almost exploded. People are going hungry, people! We have to do something! It was all I could do to stop myself from taking my MasterCard and buying baby formula for all the families within driving distance of my house.

See. There is so much need. And, aside from participating in the various Secret Santa charity programs, so little I can do at this very instant. It's heart breaking. Families are hungry. Children will not get toys for Christmas. People are losing their jobs. And I can do nothing but keep thinking about it.

Maybe this is why I need to be in law school. Not only will all the hours of studying fry my brain and make it impossibe to think about anything but finals. But when I graduate, maybe I can do some good. Help change some laws. Represent the needy. Save the World. And then maybe I can go to bed at night during the holidays.


LL said...

Hahaha, I know I should be thinking of the children but the image of you as the next superhero, "the reluctant empathiser" has me cracking up. I'm imagining your costume- a bleeding heart on your sleeve must be involved. But as we learned in The Incredibles, no cape!

Americas Next Top Lawyer said...

That is a terrible affliction you dare you care about others around the holidays or any other day- who do you think you are? :) Honestly, there should be more people in the world with the aspiration to be a super hero, like you.