Please Tell Me Why

Flower in dune

I don’t talk about politics or religion or sex on my blog. Well, other than to occasionally make fun of or rant about Donald Trump, but come on, it’s Donald Trump. I don’t talk about it because I am not prepared for the onslaught of opinions and vitriol.  I don’t talk about religion because I do not care about religion. I don’t talk about sex because I’m a prude.

I’m not viewing the Syrian refugee crisis from a political or religious angle. I just see waves and waves of people in need.

This morning, I watched a video of Elizabeth Warren speaking about visiting refugee camps.

She talked about parents who were putting their children on pieces of plastic to be set adrift in hopes of finding the Greek isles. She said they were using cheap little pool floats as protection.

Against the Mediterranean sea.

I ugly cried. I couldn’t stop sobbing.

The desperation in this act leaves me breathless. The thought of a Syrian child with a brightly colored piece of inflated plastic around their waist is too much to process.

I can’t process this.

I am not a callous person. When people die, I’m sad. When school rooms full first graders are gunned down, I feel profound sadness. When office buildings are reduced to rubble and thousands of people lose their lives, it makes me ache. But I can process tragedy. I can process the tragedy and I can live.

I cannot stop seeing these children wearing cheap pool floats. I can’t stop being sad.

I spoke with a friend at today about how I was feeling. He responded by telling me about a charity that is helping the poorest of the poor to illustrate that there are people who want to help, regardless of who is in need. Mana. This charity provides children, who are in the most peril from starvation, with a food substance that can save their lives. They are basically little biscuits made from peanuts, milk, and vitamins. The product gives children what they need to stave off death.

I live paycheck to paycheck, you guys. I have for years. I’m an expert. Tomorrow is payday. Today, I have very little. I sent some of that “very little” to this charity because I had to do something. I had to feel like I was helping someone.

So, I felt mildly better. Between the charity and a xanax, I could get through the rest of the day without crying at my desk.

I came home from work today and walked out to my deck. The weather is cold, but not freezing. There has been a steady rain pissing here for hours now. I stood there in the rain and thought, wow, I am mildly uncomfortable under these conditions. Which made me think about children, who right this minute, are on a goddamn piece of plastic just hoping they make it to the Greek isles. And when they get there, that they are not turned away, or sold into sex slavery.

Now I am back to feeling like I should do more. I don’t know what to do. I want to do something. I want to be able to process this and move on. I want to make a difference. I want the other humans to be safe and fed.

I don’t even have it in me to get upset with the people who feel we shouldn’t help the Syrian refugees. It just makes me sad. Why? Why do so many people feel this way? We all live here on this planet. The borders are meaningless…made up…it’s just a planet. Why wouldn’t we help each other?

Why don’t we want to be the good guys?

If anyone has suggestions or resources for how we can help those in need, please post your thoughts in comments.

I really want to be one of the good guys.

You know, regardless of our individual beliefs, we can all make a difference.

If you feel your time or money would be better served closer to home, then that’s awesome. Take a few loaves of bread to a food pantry or donate to a homeless shelter. Donate some time or money to an animal shelter. I don’t care what you are passionate about. I don’t care what your politics are. I don’t care if we if we would disagree about everything under the sun.

Just do something positive.

What if we all did the least we could do? If we all did something, think of the mountains we could move.

Here’s the link to Mana again.


Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Considerer says:

    You are ALL THE GOODS, my dear. Thank you SO much for this piece xoxoxo

  2. Considerer says:

    Oh! FRIST!!! Booooooom 😉

  3. Liv says:

    You are one of the good guys. Thank you on behalf of the planet. I’m off to donate.

  4. Oh so well said, Michelle. I can feel your sadness through every word and it matches mine. I am sick about what is happening, and honestly? This isn’t the first time I catch my breath in anguish over so many lives in desperate tragic peril.

    This world- oh it is a brutal place.

    I was so deeply moved with how you so beautifully described your thoughts and your need to do SOMETHING with what little you had. Thank you for this raw and real piece that resonates so deeply in me.

  5. I have no answers, Michelle. Just wanted to say how much your post touched me. And reminded me of that saying about how we may not be able to change the world, but we can change someone else’s world by doing something thoughtful and caring.

  6. Eendenkooi says:

    As always, well said Michelle. A voice of humanity amid a sea of hatred. Thank you.

  7. Kay Lynn says:

    It makes me sad and confused. I don’t understand that the same politicians who try to make push their religion into our life vote the exact opposite of that same religion when it comes to helping people.

    Thank you for being such a generous, kind light in the sea of hate.

  8. Thanks for the link to Mana. I’m also discouraged over the… general world suckage recently. I understand the frustration of just wanting to *do* something, anything even though you know you can’t personally fix it all. When it becomes overwhelming, I also try to do an act of charity or kindness, usually make a microloan on or a donation to a local non profit.

  9. Katy Kozee says:

    I just donated. I wish I could have donated in the name of two “friends” of mine who hijacked my facebook post suggesting we help people who need help and not turn our backs by saying that the non-existent chance that they might be somehow be hurt in their big suburban houses trumped (hah! I made a pun) the very real needs of the people I wanted to help. I have never been so angry and filled with so much despair about my country as I have this last week. This gives me a chance to do something at least.

    • Michelle says:

      Focus on what you can do. I know what you are saying, I have been dealing with the same. All we can do is help as best we can…and then try to be happy and positive.

  10. ManicMom says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of ugly crying myself, these days.

    It sounds trite, but I think of this quote when I get overwhelmed: “Do what you can, with what you have from where you are.”

    Thanks for the link. We live paycheck to paycheck too, most days. I’ll check it out.

  11. Molly says:

    I know these feelings better than I would like to. It feels wretched to feel helpless. I found these guys through an article on The Guardian, and it’s a place where I feel like what little money I can send can still do some real good:

  12. For what it’s worth I think you’re going well above the bare minimum by putting this suggestion and information out there where good people, and the occasional dumb schmuck like me, will see it and perhaps be propelled to greater action.

    We face some insurmountable barriers to doing good, but the occasional reminder to do the bare minimum–to do something simple that doesn’t require a lot of effort–moves a lot of us to do the bare minimum and then to think, you know, I could do a little more. So we do a little more and then we do a little more after that. And when enough of us do that it turns out those barriers really aren’t insurmountable after all.

    • Michelle says:

      I KNOW!! This is totally doable. I mean…even if we all just do the minimum and stop there…just the would change the world if everyone who COULD help DID help.

  13. Lisa K says:

    Carry on Brave Warrior for the Ugly Cry in all of us who read you.

    Thanks for the link and soul-baring. May it inspire many 🙂

  14. It makes me sick too. I would gladly take in a family from there and I don’t know why others who have the room wouldn’t want to help. The one that is killing me, that I can’t get out of my head, is of a small child washed up on shore. He didn’t make it and it still turns my guts inside out. If the people who had the room would just take in one family just think how quickly we could solve this problem. Why can’t our world leaders do the same? It makes me sick that I would live in a country that would turn its backs on people who so desperate need our help.

    • Michelle says:

      I am right there with you. I avoided looking at that picture. I did NOT want to see it. Then, reading a post, there it’s just horrifying.

      Yes, I would take in people. Randy might not agree…but I would be on board.

  15. Linda says:

    I am glad you want to help. I am glad you are not focused on one place or one group who need help. There are so many, both near and far! People and animals – so many lost, so many in need! I think of them every time I hear an argument about income equality. While others are talking about the minimum wage, I am sitting here thinking that “the top 1%” could probably do away with homelessness if they weren’t so focused on staying rich. And maybe support every animal shelter to the point of making them all no-kill. And yes, help a lot of refugee children have a safer journey, at least. So much good could be done if the rich gave the same percentage as the poor. For every dollar I have, someone else has five thousand!

    Why does it seem like we care more? I’m sitting here so broke I can’t even buy texts for my phone – but wondering “How can I help?” – and truly wanting to help. In contrast, my most affluent friend on Facebook is posting repeatedly about how everyone should help (insert new worthy cause for each post) but then ignored my request for a five dollar donation for a cat rescue transport. And a fundraiser I shared for a woman trying to raise money for materials to make gifts for kids in childrens hospitals. And a woman trying to raise money for an open adoption. And a woman trying to raise money for her friend’s bone marrow transplant. She could have easily donated five dollars to each – for a grand total of twenty bucks – and made four people feel like someone cared. And maybe inspire someone else to do the same – just like you are doing here. But she didn’t.

    Thank you for being such an awesome person, Michelle. And thank you for backing up your “we should” with an “I did”.

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you for this. I didn’t do much, but I did what I could and I plan to continue to make donating a regular thing. It feels good. I feel less sad. Still sad..but manageable.

  16. Thank you for sharing this, Michelle. If we don’t do it for anyone else, we must for the sake of those children!

  17. Cassandra says:

    My daughter is a Type 1 diabetic, so whenever these types of disasters (because that is what it is) occur, I always think of all of the diabetic kids out there who now can’t get insulin and therefore are heading for a quick and painful death. I send money to Insulinforlife (just did a couple of days ago) which gets insulin into disaster areas (and to poor populations in general) so that these kids can live.

  18. Katnap says:

    Great post, M. Thinking about how it makes us feel just to watch and read about these tragic world events. Imagine you are actually in it, a part of the story, day in, day out no escape. That blows my mind. Our new Prime Minister plans to bring 25,000 refugees into Canada by the end of 2015. Sounds crazy, I know. For months I’ve been thinking of the terrorist-douche bags who are probably mingling among the refugees just to gain easy access to western countries with the sole purpose of murder. I don’t see how we can know for sure who we are letting in, but we can’t let thousands of people suffer and die because of that uncertainty. (And no, I don’t forget about our long, undefended border. You can’t think about Canada without thinking of the US, and vice-versa.)The plan is to bring in something like 6,000 per week, mostly through Montreal (my home) and Toronto. They will be housed temporarily in nearby military compounds and “processed”. I don’t know where they’re going after that. This is an enormous undertaking and we have to think of the long term. It’s like a giant experiment that we are not quite ready to carry out (and probably can’t afford) but hell, we’re gonna do it anyways. Europe cannot absorb the entire fall-out of the Syrian crisis. North America has to step up. Yes, I’m anxious. How do I squelch that? I think about the children and young adults. What will the world be like in the future if hundreds of thousands are ignored, unwanted, and basically branded unworthy by the West? Regardless of our action or inaction, we will continue to feel the impact of these issues.

  19. Ginger says:

    Wow, I cried reading this post. I’ve been searching all week to find a resource to sponsor a Syrian family myself. I’ve been unfriending all my followers that support these red states banning these refugees. Fortunately I don’t live in one of these states. These people have been thru a horrible ordeal. These are educated people that will make our economy stronger. Doctors, engineers, scientists, families with children. I’m a single mom of two girls 18 and 10. My oldest is moving in December and I have a large room available in my 3 bedroom house in San Diego. I sent an email to Mana this morning, I’ve tried and HUD but if anyone knows of any other agency to contact to make this happen I would very much appreciate it. Please contact me at [email protected]. Thanks you guys.

  20. I normally feel the same way but in this situation a church very close to my home arranged to house a few dozen of these refugees. They are mostly young men, one child and 2 women. Please do the research on these people. They are terrorist, they just happen to be the terrorist that we provided weapons and support to because our government thought they would be better than the other group of terrorists they were fighting. It is all migraine inducing.
    In our house we have a history of taking in the homeless and helping them get back on their feet, I am not cold and callous and not one ounce of me wants little children in any kind of danger, anywhere and I hate them being used this way. I would fill my house with them and their mothers but the men, no way.
    From experience I would suggest only donating to homeless organizations that actually put people in homes, never shelters (the money never goes to the homeless it goes to pay hefty salaries and overheads.)
    I once read a story of wealthy Israeli women who owned beach homes and invited Palestinian women and their children to vacation with them for a week of peace and no fear or fighting. I pictured those little children in those colorful floats, smiling and playing together. If only…

    • Michelle says:

      My feeling is that there are bad people everywhere. We have bad people here, people who commit acts of domestic terrorism. I’m sure there are bad refugees as well, but I have to think that most of them are FLEEING the terror, not committing the terror. I don’t want to let fear rule me. Yes, we should be smart, but fear shouldn’t shut us down and prevent us from helping. We’re supposed to be the home of the brave.

  21. Tammy says:

    Beautifully written Michelle.

    I will be promoting this on our social media and donating in both our names, had I not read this I would not have known where to help.

  22. I’m the exact opposite. I don’t have the strength in me to focus on that child, because then I’ll ugly cry, too, so I end up getting unreasonably upset with the bigoted dicks who feel we shouldn’t help the refugees.

  23. This is beautiful. You have such a good heart. I always wish I had tons of money so that I could donate everywhere to every cause. What gets me the most though is seeing these poor children suffer in Syria. I also hate any form of animal cruelty. The news has just been too depressing lately.

  24. Margo says:

    Michelle, don’t ever give in to despair! There are many, many ways of being a light and helping those around us. I, too, cry when I see pictures of the desperate refugees-people fleeing from the same horrors that the fear-mongers in our part of the world are ‘warning’ us about. I am very religious
    myself, and I recognize the
    same hypocrisy…but just as we can’t judge Muslims by their hypocrites, we can’t judge Christians by THEIR hypocrites. I think that the biggest mistake anyone can
    make is to do nothing because they can only do a little. Like you, I live at the edge of financial ruin, so donating money is hard. Instead, I teach English to immigrants several hours a week as a volunteer, through the LDS church (which is also helping refugees in other ways). I truly think there are many more good people, like you, in this world then there are trumps. Thank you for this wonderful post!

    • Michelle says:

      Giving your time is invaluable. And inspirational. I’ve been talking about volunteering for a long time…I need to stop talking about it and do something about it.

  25. Doug in Oakland says:

    I read about MANA a while ago. Malnourished children need specific nutrients to help them, and they need to be in a specific form that their compromised digestion can process. When I first read about it, I thought that the idea was simple and brilliant. Then I sort of forgot about it and just kind of hoped they were doing OK. Thank you for reminding me.
    Just my two cents: It seems to me that Syrian immigrants would be in far more danger from the gun violence in the US than we would be from any potential bad behavior of theirs.

  26. Jackie G says:

    My heart breaks !! We just have to ask what can I do then do it each of us knows what that is WHAT ever it maybe we can make a difference !!! Thank you for the reminder x

  27. I get sad when I think of the refugees. Unfortunately that sadness comes in second to the absolute rage I feel at the idiotic cowards — Yes, Trump is in this group– who believe the answer lies in condoning fear, hatred, jingoism, clamp downs, and constitution trampling. They spout off without considering the impact of their words. If you start a charity to put those idiots into rafts that get shoved out to sea, preferably in stormy weather then count my dollars IN! Is that too much to ask as the holidays approach?

  28. KK says:

    The world is breaking my heart this week. I don’t understand how people can be so callous, so much so that I have been avoiding the internet as much as I can as I get so sad I can’t do the things I’m supposed to be doing.
    The faked up videos and nazi propaganda I’m seeing are nothing short of terrifying and that people believe it, even more so.
    How anyone could consider turning children away or not consider helping them is beyond my comprehension.
    One day I hope mankind will have evolved to the point that guns and bombs aren’t considered the answer to everything and that showing compassion is more likely to win over hearts and minds.

  29. Linda G says:

    We live paycheck to paycheck and even more so now that my husband’s dream job offer was rescinded. But last week we took $20 and bought shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other toiletries for the people in the nursing home who have no money and no one to supply it for them. We also stock up over the year on toys and games we find on clearance to give at Christmas. Our 2016 project is to start putting together packs for foster kids (read about it here:

  30. Angela says:

    I completely get when you’re coming from when you say you just feel like you have to do something, anything to help process tragedy. I found a refugee center here in Baltimore so a friend and I are taking some of our donations there. I think it’s called the International Rescue committee and they have locations throughout the country .

    [email protected] Stepping into Motherhood

  31. Fiona says:

    Thank you. Donation made.

  32. Scott says:

    Well said, Michelle.

  33. Mary-Anne says:

    Thank you for writing this. We all must do what we can. Thank you for reminding me to do more.

  34. Me says:

    I so hear you on this. I think we can all make a positive difference to someone who is worse off than ourselves. One thing I have noticed since moving to the land that isn’t, is that the people who live here are 1000 times more generous than the country I came from – and that probably has to do with the economics existing in both countries but still, people who have little contribute for those who have less or are in a worse set of circumstances.
    I am currently collecting hand bags filled with different products for a project called Share the Dignity ( ) – I went through my cupboard and found three bags I no longer use that are still in good condition, I also included scarves that I no longer wear – I hope that people will feel the good wishes that are going with these items.
    Since moving to the land that isn’t I have certainly become more aware of those less fortunate than myself and while I don’t have squillions to spread around, I try to do what I can to help those who need it. Have you heard of Kiva loans ? I have just made my 75th loan – recycling funds as they are repaid. I have had some go bad on me but the pleasure at helping others to get ahead far outweighs the couple who didn’t repay their loans.
    Thanks for blogging about this and making more people aware of the predicament of others.

  35. Michelle says:

    I don’t understand it either. I understand wanting to protect our borders. America has been having this argument about not accepting immigrants for a very long time and I am against it because of the fact that we are all decedents of immigrants. I understand the seriousness of the terrorist threat but I also know the U.S. is much stronger than that if only our media and our politicians would get their heads out of their asses and start being the leaders this country and this world need. I hate that children are being turned away because we have been taught to fear their parents and their religion. The U.S has never lived in fear before and we have had plenty of reason to fall to it in the past but we also had great leaders who got us through it. What is happening to our humanity that we are turning away children who so desperately need our help? What is happening to our compassion and since when do we Americans let fear or terrorists dictate our lives? We’re better than this! Thanks so much for bringing this to the forefront Michelle. I have found myself not interacting on Facebook for several weeks in a row because of all the hate that is going around and it truly boggles my mind that most of my Facebook friends are people I know personally and they are intelligent, yet they believe news programs that we all know only report news that helps to spread their agenda, which is to divide this country and spread hate. It really does confuse me why we are letting this happen. Thank you for the info on the sites. When I have the money I will donate to them. Now if only the rich will do the same.

  36. Great post. I’ve read many posts on the refugee crisis. Hell, I’ve written a few now. I appreciate your compassion without acknowledging the religious and political side of this.

    And you’re absolutely right….borders are meaningless. Or they should be. Because you don’t always get to choose what side of that border you’re on.

  37. Jana says:

    There are so many people in the world who need help that I feel overwhelmed. I know that I sometimes feel like I can’t do anything significant enough change anything – and so I do nothing. Thanks for the reminder that even one person, with even a little money or time, can make a difference in someone’s life.

  38. Deb says:

    You made a difference today… I went and made two donations because of this post. Thank you …!

  39. Onlyme says:

    What I keep thinking about this crisis is, ‘There but for having been born here, instead of there, go we.’ I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t stop to think, what if I was the refugee; what if I was having to send my precious child off on a rickety hunk of plastic, certain I would never see him or her again and only praying they would arrive alive, somewhere safe.
    I love your line, “If we all did something, think of the mountains we could move.”
    If we all acted like we were the ones putting our kids afloat, maybe we would do what it takes to make sure it never has to happen again.