Do you ever look at a bubble bath? Hundreds of individual bubbles stuck together to make a blanket over the water. If a bubble floats free it bursts but when held together in their fluffy blanket they survive.
I have always looked at work like this. Each person has their individual bubbles or responsibilities and they are all that matters to them. Each of their bubbles are connected to others. They must stay together to survive, yet the individuals often can only see within their tiny bubble. It is the manner a system operates. Individual departments or responsibilities locked together with others to create the system. It is important for those in each bubble to focus on themselves and still see their relationship with the other bubbles for survival.
After reading the headlines this morning I realized that life is that way. We are each in a bubble, locked with others in larger bubbles linked together within even larger bubbles.
Iraq, Israel, The West Bank and Gaza, Korea, The Ukraine and Russia, Guinea and on and on. I read about all of these as I sip my coffee in my air-conditioned home waiting for my four-year old to wake up and take charge of my day. That’s my bubble. My wife and my four-year old son. I allows guests in sometimes but they are essentially my bubble. My bubble is so remotely connected to the 40,000 Yezidis trapped on a mountain top in Iraq with no food or water, the people of Israel running to shelters with the latest missile attack, the Palestinians mourning the death of their children from the last air strike, The South Koreans fearing nuclear strikes from their northern neighbor, the Ukrainians wondering if Russia will cross into their land and those fearing the horrible death of Ebola in Guinea. These are just the headlines. There are countless others in my own back yard living with hopelessness and despair. Their bubbles just don’t directly touch mine.
Am I wrong sitting, waiting on my four-year old while so many other parents are watching their four-year olds die in horrific situations? These parents love their children as much as I do. Am I wrong to sit in comfort not fearing what tomorrow will bring while so many cower in fear? I think the answer is yes and no.
Our bubbles insulate and protect us from other bubbles. I think they must. If we were tried to focus on all of the bubbles around us we would go insane and not be able to meet our purpose on this little planet. I need to focus on taking care of my four-year old and my wife, being there for my other children and my parents. That’s my bubble. If I spent all of my time trying to understand and influence all of the other bubbles I would fail at my purpose in life.
At the same time I need to be aware of these other bubbles, suffering and in need. I am part of a much larger bubble called humanity and I must play a role there. I need to be informed and empathetic. I must be strong and voice my opinion to others. I must stand up for what I believe is right. I must offer prayers for those suffering, even if they do not pray to the same god as I do. With many different names and many different stories isn’t it possible we all share the same God anyway? I may not be able to go to mountain top with the Yezidis in Iraq and be there for the man whose child is dying of dehydration but as a human I need to know he is out there and feel something for him. I may not be in Gaza with the Palestinian mother whose child was lost in the air strike but I must know she is out there, and how she is feeling. Her child did not shoot rockets into Israel. I am not in a village in Guinea wondering if my family will be the next to contract Ebola but I must pray for their safety.
I am not talking about politics or religion. While we blame both topics for all of these tragedies it doesn’t solve anything. I’m talking about empathy. I’m talking about as a father, understanding how these parents feel, Muslim or Christian, Iraqi or Ukrainian. Loss does not change. Death still hurts those who survive. So as I sit here writing this my prayers and thoughts go out to those suffering. To those on the street, overtaken with addiction, to those who have lost their jobs and homes, while I do my role and love, protect and be thankful for those in my bubble.
If you’ll excuse me, my son just walked in and I need a hug.