Sure, you can talk all you want about how the writing community or YA community or whatever-the-hell community you belong to is, like, oh my god, so supportive, but that hasn't been my experience. The circle jerk of lick-you-lick-me? That I'm more familiar with.
I guess that's why this post has been so hard to write. (And why it's late, natch.) Right now I can't find it in me to believe that people--not necessarily the people blogging today (er, the day before yesterday) but people in general--really want to be kind to one another.
Years ago, a mommyblogger friend of mine was invited on a mission trip to Cambodia. The idea was that she would go, take a few pictures, write about her experience, raise awareness for the charity. The backlash was enough to make her give up her online presence. That was the first time I'd ever heard the term "poverty tourism".
Not that the concept of people doing kind things for selfish reasons was all that foreign to me. But still. Until then I'd never considered that the people "raising awareness" for these charities really didn't give a hoot about them. For them, it wasn't about the charity or the people supported by the charity. It was about the exposure. It was about--God, I really do hate this word--marketing. Selling something. Promoting themselves.
So I've been struggling. I struggle every time I see someone on Twitter begging for help and not getting it, because they're not important enough to be talked to in open forum. I struggle every time a notice comes in that an RWA contest is short on judges, and see the inevitable response of, "Gee, I'd love to help, but what's in it for me?"
And that's the thing, isn't it? Gee, I'd love to help, but...
Kindness--genuine kindness--isn't always clean or neat or tidy. It won't always fit into your schedule; sometimes it will take your schedule and blow it the fuck up. It won't always leave you feeling good; sometimes it will hollow you out and break you. Kindness is costly. Kindness is exhausting. Kindness tracks dirt in the house.
There was a time in my life when I had far less responsibility than I have today, and I remember thinking I was so busy. Too busy. Too busy to help people, too busy to do things that didn't benefit me. I don't think it's a coincidence that this period of my life was also one of the unhappiest.
I was selfish then. I try to be less selfish now. But I wonder if that's enough. I wonder if it makes a difference. I wonder if I'll always be this angry that there are more people who would rather look the part than be the part.
I don't have any answers yet.