Happy Winter Solstice
Posted on December 21, 2018
Here we sit, my friends. The shortest day of the year, on the brink of Christmas, as 2018 takes its last gasping breaths. If there is a day for sober reflection today is the day!
In my progressive model of the stages of helping fatigue, I believe that a crucial signal that you are in the second stage of Guilt and Shame (Exhaustion being the first; Cynicism and Callousness the third; and Crisis the fourth) is that the problems we face overwhelm our sense that we are making positive changes in our communities and making the world a better place. On this darkest of days with Christmas and New Year’s right around the corner, we confront the devastating fact that too many in our lives lack love, a home, a community that values them, food, healthcare, and other basic human rights. While our donation rooms fill up during the holidays, it is hard not to wonder where all this kindness is the other 51 weeks out of the year.
In my dark moments, I’ll admit to you that I doubt my own power to make any difference. Who am I to try to make a meaningful difference on things that are so much greater than one person? Ending homelessness, ensuring every child goes to a trauma-sensitive school, fighting the stigma of HIV, standing strong that healthcare is a human right, and trying to transform our mess of a country into a trauma-informed nation that will actually fix the problem and stop making them worse. Who am I?
Like you, I’m just an individual facing down systems and misconceptions. Like you, I get up every day and fight for justice and human rights. Like you, I do everything I can to bring the light of hope to the dark and painful places. Like you, the lack of sunshine, resources, time, or energy doesn’t stop me from trying each and every day.
If there is something I’m proud of in my 21-year career, it is that I am like you. On those days that I question whether I’m really making a difference, I think about every person getting off an overnight shift at a shelter or in-patient unit, the outreach worker who is going to the “office” in a part of town most would like to forget, the foster parent who doesn’t let a child’s behavior stop them from giving them the love they desperately need, the physician who forsakes wealth to serve those in poverty. When I question my abilities or effectiveness, I remember that I’m a part of an amazing army of people working towards social justices, human rights, and healing.
On this darkest of days, I’m lucky to have friends like you!