Combine a weekend visit from the boyfriend, a VNV Nation concert, and a nine-page exegesis paper, and you’ve got a recipe for an exhausted me — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Things are good, though. I’m reasonably satisfied with the paper, the concert was fun and energetic and fantastic, and the time with Brad was . . . really, really nice. Just one of those weekends when everything is lovely, and we can simply be with each other. He’s so good to me; I’m so lucky to have him.
I do, occasionally, wonder if my happiness causes bad things to happen, like the Virgin in Night Watch. My last two visits to Israel were in the summers of 2000 and 2006 — right when the al-Aqsa Intifada and the Israel-Lebanon conflict sprung up. One of my nicest weekend vacations with Brad took place literally right as Katrina was hitting New Orleans. And now, as we ate our last meal together before his plane left, we saw the news about Virginia Tech on the deli TV. It’s a horribly solipsistic view, of course.
It just . . . feels like this Easter has been a season of death. Thank God, nobody close to me has passed away, but so many people seem to be dealing with loss. And ultimately, there is no good answer to that loss. Today’s Dinosaur Comics is, as usual, funny, but it makes a really good point: relationships are not a capitalistic venture. It doesn’t matter if things “happen for a reason,” or “all work out eventually”; what matters is what we’re feeling, there and then. And that’s what humanity is, I suppose. We can’t cut ourselves off from those emotions, but we seek to transcend them.
In Thursday’s Feminist Theology group discussion, we talked about forms of violence in the world that we feel personally called to combat. I related a story from the previous week. I’d spent a while, one evening, reading about the AIDS epidemic in Zambia: almost a tenth of the population consists of AIDS orphans, 1% of the population dies every year from AIDS alone, and two thirds of the population lives on less than $1 a day. Still shivering from those statistics, I went into work the next day, and listened to one of my coworkers — a former accountant — rail against people who tried to limit the amount of money people could earn. “Capitalism is what made us the greatest country in the world,” he said, “and there is nothing wrong with making a million dollars a year.” I listened to him, and I thought: how dare we call ourselves “great” when we withhold resources from countries like Zambia? And how dare we consider million-dollar salaries “moral” when the wasteful wealth they propagate leaves the world’s poor dying by the roadside?
Well, after I talked about this, Professor Farley made a really helpful comment. Though sympathetic to my frustration, she commented that we can’t let the violence all around us overwhelm us. And it’s true. The world is such an enormous place, filled with so many people and events, that the evil and suffering can seem insurmountable — but so can the good, if we consider it instead. The gunman in Virginia Tech used his life to cause death and pain to dozens of people, but when faced with problems like that of the AIDS epidemic, the dedication of even one person’s life can give life and hope to hundreds or thousands. That’s what I’m trying to remember.