There is a trick that cruel men play. Standing on street corners with binders full of children, they pick one child from the binder and one person from the street. They tell her this child is yours: to feed her, to clothe her, to let her live. Or else she will die.

They dare not open the whole binder to show you the multitude of starving children. For then you would recognize the enormity of their suffering and your inability to end it. And you would become inured to it.

So we walk through a sea of dying babies, our eyes fixed to the ground, lest one grab our eyes, force us to see her as human, and cruelly make us responsible for her fate.

But some of us are caught by a cry or a gaze, and then another, and a third, pulled from a sea of anonymity into a sea of children — and then we are lost.

And then what? We jump from one venture to another, one hope, one fantasy, one misbegotten dream of making things better, of making things right. Pails of different sizes for bailing the ocean, until we despair at their inadequacy.

On a rare occasion, we stumble upon some opportunity, some venture, some chance to make a difference, and we grab onto that thread and pull it until its very end. We few are called saints.

I was a saint. Pulled into an ocean of suffering, into a world where my skills were needed, I used them. I pulled and I pulled at every thread as though it were a life worth saving. And like most saints, it took my life.

And as I lie here, my life bleeding away onto the pavement, I curse you as my uncle cursed me, on the night I had saintliness thrust upon me. Yours is great power. And yours, great responsibility.




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I like this piece.   I am curious why it it is a  trick that "cruel" men play.  Is it cruel to humanize the suffering with a relatable instance rather than a faceless ocean of suffering? I am not arguing the point.  I am unsure which side I believe.  But I do know many people who try to raise awareness of suffering by humanizing singular instances.  Does that do more harm than good?  

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