Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Complex Web

I've often thought about the complications that are abundant in this world. Events that take place in our world often effect more than one person. Those people may have very different experiences from the same event. Among those affected, there are those who benefit from a particular situation, alongside a group of people who experience the pangs of discomfort. These events can be anything from political maneuvers, to corporate policy-making, to sporting events, and even to the event of rain falling from the sky.

Last Saturday, the skies opened up in San Diego, and the rain came down. It's not often that San Diego experiences rain for the majority of any given day. It's especially rare for rain drops to fall that do much more than mist your windshield.

As I sat in my house last Saturday and watched Ocean Beachians scamper to find cover from the rains, I reveled in the moment. I had been in a funk for a few days, and it seemed the rain might be enough of a surprise to pull me out of my stupor. I ran upstairs and threw on my running shoes and sprinted out the door, all the way to the end of Sunset Cliffs. About a mile from my house, it began to dump, and any notion of staying somewhat dry was washed away with the downpour. As my shoes, socks, t-shirt, and shorts (all of which were white, whoops) became saturated, I continued on, embracing the rain. There was an amazing moment when a smile uncontrollably came over me, and I lifted out my arms to my side, looking skyward. It was a moment when I was grateful for a body that is capable of movement, grateful for the unexpected visit of the rain, grateful for the beauty of rain falling into the Pacific, and grateful for the refreshing coolness of the drops that fell on my face. It was one of my finest moments in quite awhile. Arriving back at the house, I stood on my lawn and smiled, as the rain found the few places on my clothes that weren't fully saturated.

It was beautiful. So much joy.

That same Saturday evening, as the rain continued to blanket the San Diego coastline, a man from Pacific Beach experienced the rain much differently than I had.

"A 39-year-old homeless man sleeping under a tractor-trailer rig in Bay Park was injured this morning after a worker got into the vehicle and drove over him. The accident happened at 6 a.m. on Morena Boulevard near Savannah Street, San Diego police said. The 49 year-old worker started the truck and let it idle for a while to warm up and then started to drive away, police said. He was unaware the man was underneath it, police said.

The victim is being treated at a hospital for a broken pelvis and possibly two broken legs, police said."

As I heard this story on Sunday morning, I sat in silence. My breathing stopped momentarily.


This man was trying to find a quick solution to the unexpected rains. His lack of adequate shelter led him a nearby trailer-truck that provided escape from the rains. The rest he found under the truck was tragically interrupted.

It was ugly. So much suffering.

I realized how complicated our world can be. Our world is this messy collection of beauty and pain, joy and suffering. It's so damn complicated. The joy that I found in the beauty of the rain juxtaposed with the immense suffering that my fellow human experienced is more than I can understand.

The complexity of this man's body being crushed by the only shelter he could find is so twisted. I writhe for this man and for his circumstances, and I'm pissed. The stupid rain.