Not with a bang but a whimper

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There’s some classic lines in one of TS Elliot’s poems, The Hollow Men:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper

When I think about those words it reminds me that the problems in the world are often undramatic and unimpressive to look at, but devastating to individuals. Think of a family starving behind closed doors, or a homeless man dying in a back alley, or a child being abused in a house unseen by others, or a person struggling with chronic pain, or someone feeling suicidal and not talking to anyone, or a lonely person sat in a cold dark room unable to pay their heating bill, I could go on and on. These things on there own are each devastating, destructive, sad, awful, and yet they are not normally front page news or made into best selling books or Hollywood movies. They are everyday stories of misery and hurt. Most pain, sadness, illness, abuse, hunger, poverty and need is like that.

The reason it impacts me is because it puts in perspective my own suffering. Not only is it part of a wider picture of suffering in the world, but it is not news. Yes, my limitations are a problem for me and my family. But that is true for each case. It makes me want to look outside myself to others and say, ‘this is not all about me. The world doesn’t revolve around me.’ That is the cry we should all make, it’s not about us. It makes me want to see a community that cares and wants to make a difference.

Cut off behind closed doors. We have become a nation of selfish people, focussed on our own needs. We need to look outside our own front doors, look to the suffering happening to those around us. I am challenging myself on that, not only others. I do not say this so that people would respond to any need of mine, but so that each of us would look to the needs around us.

Where are the hungry, abused, those in mental and physical pain, lonely, cold, and needy in our community. What can we do to help? If you are already doing stuff, brilliant, great, encourage others. If not what can you do? We are too used to the dramatic, the big news, the Hollywood view of things. But life is about small acts of kindness, being there for each other, helping, caring, seeing need and responding.

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