25 July 2006

pincer grasp

i remember seeing ida jane on christmas day. she had just mastered the pincer grasp, and was picking up tiny objects between her thumb and fore-finger--precisely, and delicately. it struck me as such a sophisticated thing for such a young baby. she was also cruising around on two feet, moving from coffee table to couch, getting ready to walk, but i was most impressed by the pincer grasp. cosmo was just a month old at the time. his new skills included: smiling. cruising and finger foods seemed ages away. now, only 7 lightening-fast months later, he's doing those things too. i'm so proud of him. and i feel so blessed, in so many ways:
i have a beautiful, sweet-spirited child, a loving & supportive partner, strong friendships with amazing people and...starting on friday, cosmo will no longer be in daycare. i'll be caring for him during the day, for as long as we can make it work financially(probably less than a year). i remind myself everyday of my incredible good fortune. while i revel in it, i am also struck with pangs of guilt, and a feeling that it's "just not right." it's not that i don't feel like i deserve such luck, it is that i believe we all do. and there is so much needless struggle and suffering.

yesterday, on the way to work i heard a story on the radio about a lebanese family (one of three that day) who had followed the israeli instructions to flee their home before israeli bombs struck their town. en route, their car was struck by an israeli (US supplied) bomb. an eight month old baby was wailing in the background. she had suffered severe burns and other injuries. her 10 year old brother was nearby, trembling from shock--also burned. their father and uncle had been killed in the blast, the mother, i believe, was also injured. the point of broadcasting a story like that is to bring the crisis home; to make it something that everyday people can identify with. when i heard there was an 8 month old baby, i immediately put myself in the shoes of the mother. what would i do if i lived in southern lebanon, and i received the warning and instructions to evacuate or be killed? how would i decide between fleeing with my baby, or heading for a bomb shelter? especially with only 2 hours warning, knowing that everyone else would be on the road, and that roads and bridges have been bombed, or are otherwise unsafe. the truth is that i cannot even imagine. try as i might, it is impossible. remember the catastrophe on the roads out of houston when the region was threatened by hurricane rita? what a nightmare, and yet nothing compared to the 12 days of devastating bombardment and destruction of infrastructure all over southern lebanon. it is a man-made disaster on a scale that we in the US cannot comprehend. oh, but the us is sending humanitarian aid. even the vice prime minister shimone peres had the gall to say "israel will do all it can to avoid a humanitarian crisis in lebanon." how is it that you can simultaneously cause, and avoid a humanitarian crisis? i don't get it. i don't understand war, i don't get "rules of engagement," i don't understand how, as we did in afganistan, a nation can drop bombs and aid packets at the same time. call me naive, but war of any kind, makes no sense to me.

it seems criminal to celebrate the blessings of my own life, while so many lives are being strained and destroyed. i comfort myself with the thought that my happiness contributes to the overall level of happiness in the world. when possible, we create around us the kind of world we desire. my little world makes the world a better place in some small way. i have to believe that.


cake said...

i just noticed i used the word "struck" four times in this post.

chuck said...

better than "metonymic."

Kate said...

Your entry tonight made me think of this poem by Jack Gilbert I read recently:


Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between t
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

cake said...

thanks kate. that is a great poem.