A glance at the news this week is quickly overwhelming. For the first time ever, federal officials declared a water shortage at Lake Mead, a water reservoir located on the Colorado River. The Taliban seized control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan with a population of about five million people. The US reported more than 900,000 COVID-19 cases last week, bringing the US total to more than 36.8 million cases and 622,058 deaths. Haiti was hit by 7.2-magnitude earthquake with more than 1400 deaths thus far. Wildfires ravage California and Utah as thousands are forced to evacuate. In the face of so many major events, what is a well-intentioned person to do?
It is easy to feel helpless with so many catastrophic events piled one on top of the other, breathtaking in their speed and enormity. The innate desire to alleviate human suffering is part of our humanity. Decision paralysis often occurs in the face of too many options. We can begin to feel that our small contributions aren’t likely to make any impact on such monumental problems. There are some steps we can take to manage feelings about these events and to help us prioritize when and where to give our time and resources.
The first is simple and difficult – regulate your consumption of media. In the not so distant past, the timing of major news was controlled by the television schedule. Today it is up to the individual to create real boundaries about when, how, and in what ways to consume news. Continuously checking your device for updates throughout the day doesn’t materially change the catastrophic event, but it fuels your feelings in a way that can cause more harm than good.
Making financial contributions is one way to influence better outcomes for people in need. Every social media thread is populated with requests to donate to countless charities from small community events to large international relief funds. Some are personal calls to help support a cause close to home while others are far-ranging but equally compelling. Some needs are immediate others are long-term. Where does a big-hearted human start? Check in with charity recommenders such as GiveWell or Charity Navigator to learn more about each organization, what percentage of your contribution goes to direct relief vs administrative overhead, etc. Decide on your priorities for charitable giving and choose organizations that align with them. Maybe consider giving money directly to those in need when you feel compelled to do so.
What does all this have to do with the world of Multifamily Collective? People are at the heart of what we do. Our team members, our residents, and our leaders each carry around their own strong feelings related to the many needs around us. It is easy to succumb to it all, but a little perspective and distraction goes a long way.
With all the heaviness around the world, I feel especially struck by an old favorite of mine: The Guest House by Rumi.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
My final encouragement today is that you give generously to others and also to yourselves that you may have some fuel yet left in your tank to give another day.