In a recent conversation with a missionary, the subject matter of “Why don’t people do more to help?” consumed the dialogue. This missionary had recently returned from a country in which children were starving and women and children were being abused. The missionary first thought, “Surely people don’t know. If they knew, they would not turn away food or support.” Ah, if only that were true. Ask anybody if there are starving people in XYZ country and they will astoundingly tell you “yes!” People know. Not only are they able to imagine the worst of acts but they are also aware that there are indeed people and organizations actively working to help.
So if action is not a reflection of knowing, then what is it dependent upon? Often, the ability to engage in the kindest of actions and the purest of evils, is a condition of the heart. It is not a condition of knowledge. At HALO we see this in all forms. We see a child, hurt lashing out transform into a child engaged in acts of love and empathy when his needs are met. We see families filled with chaos transform frustration into beautiful communication when somebody meets their needs. We see donors and volunteers who are so full of love they are compelled to give of their time and talents again and again. And, we see “grown up” children from hard places desperate to be reunited with their children but are unable to overcome addiction, abuse or guilt. It is important to remember, the condition of the heart for these parents is not that of evil, it is one of brokenness. In EVERY SINGLE case in which we have worked with a parent whose children were removed, they themselves did not have their needs met as a child. EVERY. SINGLE. CASE.
We are all moving in a direction. The direction in which we are moving is a condition of our hearts. In which direction are you moving? Are all your needs met? Do you feel loved? Unconditionally loved? Or, is something missing in your heart and you are searching for it in all the wrong places?
Perhaps the “selfie” culture of today reflects this idea more outwardly that anything else. The American culture is often described these days as filled with selfishness. It’s even been said that we are living in “the ME culture of today.” If this idea of a “ME" culture is meshed with the idea that we are a living out the condition of the heart, then let it be said that we are NOT AT ALL living in a selfish culture, we are living in a broken culture. This cultural selfishness does NOT reflect a condition of self-love as much as it reflects a condition of lack of love.
At HALO we teach parents to ask their children, “What do you need?” when they are experiencing heightened emotional distress. Wanna know what the most common response is? They don’t ask for ice cream or a new toy or to show something they have done off to the world. The most common response is a thoughtful pause, followed by arms slowly reaching for a hug. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Cindy R. Lee, LCSW, LADC
HALO Project Executive Director