COMMENTARY: Ask yourself what steps you can take to help

COMMENTARY: Ask yourself what steps you can take to help


We are quick to donate to victims of Hurricane Harvey, but slow to accept climate change. We are willing to donate blankets and hygiene products to women and children who’ve fled their homes due to domestic violence, but slow to hold offenders accountable.

We tell teen girls they “don’t need” to stay with an abusive boyfriend, but are slow to call out boys who call little girls names, pat their butts and tickle them well past enjoyment.

It’s hard to make sense of. Why deny science when it proves that more frequent and extreme weather patterns are a result of climate change, but then donate to relief efforts?

We’ve all heard the saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This isn’t to say that our compassion for victims is unconditional. We are acquainted with the blaming of those in Harvey’s wake that didn’t evacuate and we are definitely all too familiar with blaming victims for not being able to avoid, predict, defend against or leave their abuse.

Yet tossing a Band-Aid of “relief” on a victim’s wounds does seem to offer relief to more than just them. Perhaps if I can dole out enough Band-Aids, I can ignore that truly changing the source of the problem would require me to change. I would purchase less and recycle more. I would parent my son more firmly. I’d ease up on the accelerator and temper my road rage. In short, I would have to cease some of my reckless behavior, or “privilege” of acting without regard for our collective futures.

I don’t think it’s as simple as blaming the wealthy or the “right.” From what I can see, today’s entitlement equates in part to “not my problem.” A mentality that can be held by many, regardless of attribute.

Is Connecticut facing a huge deficit that cannot be “cut” away without devastating vulnerable populations? “Not my problem. No taxes, no matter what.”

Is an entire culture of people facing extinction overseas without countries willing to allow them in as refugees? “Not my problem, no new immigrants from there.”

Are LGBT families facing loss of employment, access to housing and services, the legal possibility of adoption in many states? “Not my problem.”

Are black families facing the loss of their children far too often, too young, and brutally? Hmm.

In the wake of Harvey, please do donate, but also ask yourself what one step is that you can take to help curb the impact of man-made climate change.

In the face of sexual violence, please do give your local rape crisis center new sweat suits so rape victims can leave the hospital in something more comfortable than a hospital gown after they tolerate a rape kit.

Then ask yourself: what is one thing you can do to curb rape culture? Truthfully, whether it’s our problem to face today or not, none of us can escape the consequences in our shared future.

Sharlene B. Kerelejza is executive director of Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis.

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