I’m applying to be a CASA, G-d help me.
For those not familiar with the term, CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate. The short version is, when a child has entered the SRS system for anything ranging from neglect to abuse to behavioral issues, the Court will appoint a CASA to independently research the case and present their views on what will be in the best interest of the child (when a volunteer is available, which is sadly not always the case).
Yeah, I know it’s going to break my heart on a daily basis. But that already happens everytime I read the news, and I’m sick of just feeling sick about it.
Even before I found an established religion that resonated with me, I prayed. A lot. Even when I proclaimed myself to be a cynical hard-ass bitter atheist.
I rarely prayed for myself, aside from the occasional, “Oh, just . . . thank You.”, and those were a lot rarer back then than they are now; I’ve been sending that bleep out into the universe multiple times daily these past few years. But when I read of a child victimized, something in me just screamed so hard it ruptured something in my psyche and set it bleeding, like a small ulcer. Always. Every single time. And it wasn’t just a “help them”, it was more visceral than that, more to the effect of, “I’ll take their pain if you’ll spare them from it. I can handle it; they can’t.”
But I’ve begun to realize that prayer isn’t the email to the impersonal webmaster I once thought it was, that it isn’t ignored or responded to with a stock PR reply. I’ve begun to recognize that I’m getting answers to those prayers, and it isn’t in the form of a divine hand of mercy miraculously lifting said child out of its mire of desperation and into the sort of childhood every human being deserves. I’m not getting a sense of “peace, my child, all will be well.”
Instead, I’m getting a firm kick in the ass.
Maybe it’s the experience of parenting a child of my own that’s awakened this awareness. Maybe it’s something much less defineable.
Maybe I went and grew a social conscience when I wasn’t looking.
Now, when I get that feeling like I’m going to vomit and cry and punch something all at the same time when reading of yet one more horror in an endless stream of atrocities against innocents, it’s inextricably mixed up with a combination of guilt and passionate activism.
Someone is trying to tell me that I’m ready, now, to quit just feeling sorry for these kids, but instead do whatever is in my limited power to make any miniscule difference I can.
I don’t believe that G-d has every detail of every human life planned out, and that His plan will inevitably guide every person to fulfill their purpose in His creation. Reading the Old Testament as an adult has purged that delusion, if common sense hasn’t.
I do, however, believe that G-d put me here to make the word a better place than it was when I arrived. I believe that’s His wish for all souls, but for reasons beyond my fathoming, He lets us make the decision to do that, or not, as we will.
So I’ve begun to think that just writing rambling memoirs about my experience as one of the earth’s biggest scumbags, and consort to more of the same, isn’t enough to fulfill that intention.
I quite adamantly believe that my unique voice is the gift I was given this time around, and that how I use it will be my single most important contribution to mankind, small as it may be.
But I’m beginning to think that the written word, serving my own ego, isn’t the vehicle that’s going to accomplish that.
Instead, I think that I’m meant to use my experiences and insights in a much more direct manner.
I used to think that my own story was the only one I was meant to make heard.
I now realize that this was narcissistic bullshit.
People like me who were given the gift of extraordinarily moving expression aren’t necessarily given said gift just to tell their own stories. There are those much more important than us, whose voices have been stolen from them, and we have a duty as decent human beings to use this talent to aid them.
And I have experiences that I believe are uniquely suited to this sort of work.
It’s time I expanded my repertoire.
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