By Susan Barnett
The article attached to this blog post is one I came across last week and has haunted me ever since. It is about the drought and resulting famine in Africa and the tortured choices mothers are making in an effort to save the lives of some of their children over others.
Before I go any further, let me say that I am well aware that there is suffering that exists in the United States, the country in which I live, right in my back yard, etc. However, I don’t feel that that is a good reason or excuse to not acknowledge or turn away from intense human suffering in another geographic region. The way I see it, we are all people and I tend to feel compassion equally for the helpless.
With that said, as a mother of two children and ready to give birth to my third in a matter of weeks, I CANNOT imagine making the choice to leave one of my children behind to die in order to get the others to what may (or may not) be the water and food that can save their lives.
The article tells of one mother who is walking miles with her four year old who walks next to her and her one year old on her back (the same ages as my two boys). When her four year old gets too weak and collapses, she knows he is not dead, but she makes the decision to leave him along the road alone to die in order to get herself and her youngest child to their destination. A place where there is the hope of finding food and water.
This is a decision I don’t think anyone can or should judge. From my well fed, comfortable perspective, it’s unfathomable. However, if I was ever unfortunate enough to be faced with such dire circumstances, I don’t know what I would do. I find unbelievable comfort (and some guilt) in the fact that I will likely never be faced with such a tortured decision. Largely because I am lucky enough to have been born in the United States … and not Somalia, or some other third world country.
I realize that as a country we are not invincible, but I consider my chances of facing such horror far less likely simply because I am a US citizen. For that I feel extremely fortunate and therefore find it difficult to ignore the plight of other human beings who are not so lucky.