Dec 5 1 Comment

When words fail and talk seems empty

During my life, I have seldom been empty for words. In fact, words are my best friends and I have so many of them in my head all the time that I fear I annoy some of the people closest to me with them.

However, this fall, I have found it hard to express my thoughts and feelings in writing. It is like…the words haven’t been adequate. No matter how many of them, they still haven’t said what has been inside my head and in my heart.


This girl I met in Karen state. Brave and wise. Poor and oppressed.












Weary is a word I can use to describe my feelings. But it isn’t a strong enough word. Enervated, perhaps. Drained. Empty of feelings. For how can one describe the slow murder of friends in words? How can I write about children getting slaughtered? I can’t. I just can’t. And if I do, who wants to read it? Who reads about oppression and injustice when there is Brad and Angelina?

So I have looked elsewhere. I have read about things that make the heart light, not heavy. Like traveling to faraway places or renovating houses. The more I can avoid interaction with human suffering, the less I care. The more I can tell myself that there is nothing I can do, the less I need to be involved. The more I can say that this problem is bigger than my bank account will ever be, the less I need to give. The more I can blame the problem on others, the less responsible I am. Right now, the Rohingya are getting killed by their own government. Right now, tens of thousands are fleeing from their homes in Syria. Right now, the leaders of my own government are talking about refugees as nothing more than leeches who have fled and want to come to our country to take advantage of us. Right now, a man is getting ready to become the president in the USA who have shown very little regard for refugees and oppressed people around the world. It seems our leaders think of them as opportunity seekers.

And they are right. They are seeing an opportunity to survive. Who wouldn’t?


I took this photo of a beautiful Rohingya girl. Her life is in danger and we don’t know how long she and her people will survive.













I am writing this from Beirut where I am getting ready to spend days with refugees from Syria and Iraq. I am ambivalent. What if they are not OK? What will that require from me? Will I have to feel their pain? Will I have to get involved in their lives? Will I have to cry? Will I have to give some of my comfort away?

These are questions I am pondering before going to bed in a country that hosts more refugees per capita than any other country in the world. These are questions I will know the answers to in the next few days. I hope I will have the words to tell what I see and hear. I hope I will have the words to explain how I feel and what I fear. I hope.


A Syrian refugee girl. Photo by Jon Ivar.



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