There was a book I read when I was younger called Only Begotten Daughter. The premise of the book was simple: Another virgin birth (with a twist I won't get into here) produced God's Daughter. Raised by her Jewish father, who was quite familiar with the Biblical accounts of what happened to God's last child, she was warned against using her powers to bring any attention to herself. Her father didn't want to watch her die. She grew up knowing she was the child of God, but not knowing what to do with herself.
In an effort to prove to herself that her inactivity is acceptable, she creates a "Wall of Shame" in her room. She becomes obsessed with recording every awful event that happens in the world. Every newspaper clipping she can get her hands on that shows a natural or manmade disaster, that shows children dying, that shows people suffering, she puts up on her wall. The attitude she displays is "If God won't help these people, why should I?"
I've spent the past several days creating my own "Wall of Shame" as it were. Every waking minute I haven't been at work, I've been staring at my computer as Katrina has unfolded into a disaster of immense proportions. I've been horrified not by the damage that nature has brought, but by the casual disregard that has been shown by many in the government. I won't go into a list of it here, but there has been more than enough on the web to keep me glued to my computer for 8 to 10 to 12 hours a day. Every day when I get up, I tell myself I'm just going to take a quick look here, but every day brings more things to stare at in horror. News reports, videos, opinion pieces. There's more than enough that this is all I do all day. I take occasional breaks to check out my favorite blogs, but nothing distracts me for long.
I didn't have internet access when 9/11 happened, and I didn't have t.v. I've only seen the video of the plane hitting the tower twice. But I'm going to go to my grave remembering the president of Jefferson Parish breaking down and sobbing that "She drowned on Friday. No one's coming to get us!".
If you're feeling as overwhelmed and helpless as I am, I will point you to this link, where it talks about ways of helping with that. A friend of mine also made a post that's very helpful. I've decided that the only way I can deal with this any more is to step away from the computer, and stop bathing myself in the misery every day. It doesn't mean I care any less, but it does mean accepting that in this place, at this time, I can do nothing to help that I haven't already done.
I will leave you with one more thought about Only Begotten Daughter, the scene I took away from the book with the most meaning to me.
In the book, the main character finds Jesus in Hell, and quite surprised that anyone would think he was in Heaven. Because he's with the damned souls, giving them water to ease their suffering.