Where are the Angels?

@postaday 326; #postaday2011.

When I lived in  Honolulu Tower on the edge of Chinatown and the free trade zone, it was always easy to tell when it was welfare check day. I once witnessed a man wrestle a woman’s purse from her while their kids watched from the shopping cart that served as a baby buggy. He hit her hard, but she desperately hung onto that purse. I do not know if she succeeded. I do not know if she wanted to get food for the kids. I do not know if the dad was desperate to score crystal meth or to buy a big bottle of beer and cigarettes.

As I drove by in our fully insured car with Kid1 strapped securely in her rear-facing baby seat, I wanted to help, but I was frozen with fear. I couldn’t act. My skin crawled, my heart raced, I was so upset. I sent an “oh, G*d!” of a prayer and hope something would work for them.

I weighed the consequences. We lived in a condo, we were starting a family, we struggled like every other young family. I couldn’t pull over and jump out. I’d have to pull over, unstrap my child, feed the meter, and carry her over to the scene. Then what? Yell at the man? Defend his wife? Somehow grab those kids? This was an event that was probably two minutes long.

That drive-by sensation revived helpless feelings I had as a child when I witnessed similar events, multiple times, in our house. It’s amazing how these sensations erupt and manifest themselves into a cold sweat, a racing heart, a rash.

Not everyone can be a super hero and save the day. You could get shot at for getting in the middle of something that doesn’t involve you. Not everyone can be an angel, swooping into lives, rescuing them, filling their bank accounts, saving homes from foreclosure.

There is a lot of need in our communities. And where there is need, there are feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, which sometimes result in bad judgment calls and flying fists.

It’s not always a good idea to stop the car and save the day. But we can donate to food banks and out-reach groups; we can help sustain safe havens and programs that help people get where they should be in life. We can help the angels.

I moved thousands of miles away from my childhood, but there are some things trapped in my psyche forever. I try to be a better parent, and it’s really a struggle sometimes. But if it’s hard for me, how difficult it must be for those with much less?