I am one of my "do something" phases of self-deprecation for sitting around in the comfort of my life even while I know that millions are suffering everywhere throughout the world. I tell myself I "should be" working in a soup kitchen, raising money for Planned Parenthood, flying to Africa to work in a health clinic... I read, for example, Nicholas D. Kristof's columns (like the one in yesterday's New York Times about women suffering dreadfully as a result of fistulas in yesterday's New York Times,) and I berate myself for not traveling the world, as he does, and using my writing skills to draw attention to its miseries. I read in his book (I reviewed it last week) about all those wonderful people who devote their time, their energy, their money and their very lives to serving other human beings in distress. I am in awe of such selfless people... and compare myself the them unfavorably.
When these moods strike, as they do from time to time, I find myself defenseless against them. All my attempts to justify what I judge to be my inaction seem pretty thin: I do what I can with my writing, I have passed the time when I'm much use to anyone, I try to live an honest and humane existence, I send money as I can to help with causes I believe in, and so on. Then I start to accuse myself of self-pity, laziness, inertia... and end up throwing the book at myself and landing it pretty much on target. I can't be the only bleeding heart in the world who remains content to bleed, as though that in itself were action enough to respond to the world's problems.
Tomorrow, I plan to "do something." I'll doubtless report on it in a couple of days's time.