I offered to go to Afghanistan, planned to go to Albania, and went to South Africa.
For decades a small global call whispered.
Following plights of the suffering has consumed countless hours of my life, refugees being a common Sunday morning coffee read. In 2009, when Syrian innocents were forced to flee Assaad’s terror, I could have told you the number of refugees worldwide was 20 million. War correspondents fall among my favorite heroes.
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in the ‘90s, girls could not go to school, women were forbidden to work, and neither could leave their homes without a male to ensure their compliance. With arrogant audacity, I handed my card to a woman working there, offering help. I never followed up. And Albania? Before I finished reading a book about the then dangerous country that I knew little about, the opportunity was canceled.
When a chance in South Africa arose, I leapt to go with the delegation of lawyers. We educated on child support enforcement and domestic violence protections. Still, a low-grade shame traveled with me as we stayed in lovely hotels, sipping wine with dinner, all the while staying protected from the poverty-stricken slums of Soweto.
Today I still want to know what is happening to the million Uyghurs that China continues to detain in 85 camps, and Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine rarely go more than a day without my notice. Still, I’m neither an advocate across the ocean nor a global humanitarian. I remain three blocks down the hill from the grade school I attended. Most days I move no more than a mile radius from where I wake up. I am deeply rooted.
If I get a case of the CouldaWouldaShouldas—lethal for a life coach—thinking that there is someplace else for me to be to relieve the great suffering of any of the billions, I have that choice. I am free to go anywhere for a next chapter. My children are grown, my law firm thriving, and my life partner is one I can count on to say, “Do what you need to do.”
I think I’ll heed the words of my love. Do what I need to do. I need to remember that we are all one. That our connection is continuous. That there is suffering in both Omaha and Odesa.
Spring has arrived. This season I’ll bloom where I’m planted.
Do you ever feel a call to do something greater?
Do you ever worry that what you do is too small?
Can you see your life purpose right in front of you?