A few weekends ago an earthquake struck the region in which I reside. We are far enough away from the epicenter that we only felt the quake but didn't have any damage. I woke up just before the rolling waves of the quake began. The hanging plants were swaying and making a creaking sound, which is what I think first woke me up. As soon as I heard and felt the first wave, my whole body went on alert. I was ready to pull the pillow over my head or jump out of bed and dash to the doorway. It would have taken one thing falling for me to jump into action...been there, done that.
In the days since, I've become a frequent visitor to the Earthquake part of the USGS website. This website shows all the recorded earthquakes in a 24 hour period around the world. Folks, the earth is moving a lot. Looking right now at the map, in the last 24 hours there have been 12 earthquakes over a 4.0. It's fascinating to see what is happening around the world that most of us never hear about...it's also fascinating to see what makes national headlines and what doesn't. An earthquake that knocks down buildings and buckles roads get a lot more press than an earthquake in the middle of the ocean.
I've been paying attention to the national news a lot in the past few weeks. I've seen the headlines and my heart breaks. I feel helpless, in some ways, way to privileged in others, and I've become more and more aware of how sheltered my world is compared to others. I work at not standing in denial of the unfair treatment of others and the realities of that unequal treatment but also struggle with a sense of what I can actually do to change the situation. So I sit back, murmuring slightly, taking a good, hard look at my own soul, my own thoughts, my own reactions, judging my own thoughts and feelings and digging down deeper to my own, dare I say it, prejudices. I may not be in the epicenter of this particular "earthquake" but I am feeling the rolling waves and am on alert.
There are people within my circle of acquaintances, family and friends that have said things over the years that make me cringe, blatantly racist or derogatory things said with little smiles that are just plain wrong. There are times when I could have spoken up and pointed those statements out and haven't. There are moments when I have judged someone because of their differences from me, only later to find that I was completely and totally wrong. I have allowed my own fears to get in the way when I have heard or seen an injustice. I've lived in my own little world and turned a blind eye, at times, to the larger world that is filled with injustice and suffering. It's not anything I am proud of, and I could make a million excuses for not doing, saying, seeing more of what the world really is like. But sometimes it's just like earthquakes, among the little ripples happening all the time that I am unaware of, one suddenly jolts me out of my complacency and demands attention.
I'm paying attention to earthquakes these days...those that make the physical earth shake and those that shake my social and world views.