Maritza Ruiz-Kim

Artist, San Francisco Bay Area

Distant Grief

That’s what you see when you see the videos coming out of China after the earthquake. We didn’t get much info out of Burma, although I know people there. I think. Or people I know, know people there. Anyway, I see this footage, and I see kids being pulled out of school buildings, and I see a boy calling out for help with kids all around him, and people not able to get to them. And they look like my own children.

There’s something about seeing suffering among people that look like us. Am I callous? To not feel a deeper connection when those suffering don’t look like me, or my kids? There’s something about projecting myself there, standing with the women who are watching for their children to emerge from crashed down buildings. Crying. I cried with them.

Strangely, I feel like it matters, that I watch these crucial events, that I feel their pain.  It seems in my heart that it matters, in a real, having an impact kind of way. Why? How could me feeling anything do anything for anyone? Maybe it’s about having a perspective of compassion, empathy. And hoping that it spreads. These people are suffering so much. I guess it goes against my conscience to not stop and care.  I need to have my moment of silence.  And just seeing those children who look like my children, it breaks my heart. And I guess I feel like I owe it to humanity to look straight into the suffering, not a furtive glance then setting my eyes on a more pleasant place, but to stare into the abyss of sadness that is there.

Another strange thought- GK’s brother travels into China frequently, and how weird is this: when I first heard about the earthquake, I did an internal check- Did I feel anything that led me to think he was endangered? I concluded, no.  And I guess he was in Brazil at the time. It’s just a strange personal fact that I have had enough experiences of being tuned into something major happening in the world (hmm… what’s going on? Something happened. Turn on the TV: oh, a plane went down in his neighborhood. Something happened. Turn on the car radio: oh, the shuttle burned up) that I thought perhaps I should check in on that sense to have a forewarning that he was all right. And I guess he was. Good.

Going to bed. Bye.

2 Replies to “Distant Grief”

  • Yes!! I feel the same way. I know people, friends and family who won’t read the paper, who don’t want to look at the news. People who take “media breaks” and even though I can understand where they are coming from, I can’t look away. I feel like I shouldn’t. I want people to notice MY pain to say I matter, so therefore I MUST notice theirs and show them THEY matter as well.

  • I respect and admire the ways that you feel sympathy for others. I think it does matter. If nothing else, it keeps your heart soft and compassionate. The world could always use a lot more of that!

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