I Cannot Look at the Boy on the Beach… (when the suffering is too much)

by joelmckerrow

Where do we go when we feel so helpless. When baby’s bodies wash up on the shore of our impotence. Our inability to change things as we wish they would change. The powerlessness of knowing that one body on a beach is just one of a million grains of sand inhumanely taken from the world under our watch. I watch too often, speak less, act not half as much as this. I cannot even watch this one. I cannot look at the photo of the boy on the beach. It hurts too much. Like I have not been able to look at the bodies in Syria or the babies of Palestine or the children of Iran or the wounded of Iraq. The loss of blood. A gaping wound. I feel sick. Weak. Silent. Like my voice could never be loud enough over the din of war drums. My protest never powerful enough to open the borders, to open eyes. I am one grain of sand. I do not know what to do. What to say.


Today I plead with the boys of the school where I teach, boys soon to be leaders and CEO’s and politicians and entrepreneurs. I plead for them to keep their eyes open. To hold people close. To act justly and love mercy. I plead for them to use their influence, to use their wealth, to use their words for something larger than themselves. For the boy on the beach. For the girl in the grave. For the Father weeping. For the mother left lonely. For the woman beaten. For the man broken. For the child slave. For the factory worker. For the sneered upon. For the feared upon. For the exile. For the displaced. For Egypt. For Syria. For Australia. I plead.


I plead and I realise that this, this is what I can do. This is what I bring. I feel helpless, but I shall keep speaking even as I feel my voice is too soft. I feel powerless but I shall still urge those who will one day be in power to use this power justly. I feel incapable of making change, but I shall try to change these minds in front of me. Who is in front of me. This is where I begin. Right now. These grains of sand connected to other grains of sand. I can do nothing for the boy on the beach. I can do something for the next boy. Today, it starts with these boys in front me. These boys in my class. Tomorrow it starts with the people that they bump into and the people that I bump into. I feel so incapable of bringing about change in Australia, but I shall try do so regardless of this feeling. I choose today to continue to give myself to something larger than myself. Today I repeat Margaret Mead to myself over and over and hope to God that she was right,

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;

indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.