Am I just burned out?

by Alan Burch

Our assignment for these blog posts is to ‘write something personal’, something about what we have discovered about our feelings in regard to hunger.

I have to admit that I am conflicted, confused and unsure of how I am feeling.

I have been an active volunteer and contributor to worthy causes for over half a century. In the 1950s, I would forgo collecting candy on Halloween in lieu of collecting money for UNICEF.

Not actually me, however I did use those ‘milk cartons’ for collections.

In the 1960s I was involved in raising money to feed poor people in the US. In the 1980s and 1990s I was active in working with local food banks. I had a desire to ‘change the world’. Even now, I still give a fair amount of my time and money to causes I think are worthy.

I’m thinking this might be a vestige from being a hippie earlier in life.

Actually, I am in this picture. (University of Kansas 1970)

Fast forward to 2011 – I am now in a class that is involved in ‘hunger’. I am immersed in learning about hunger – on campus, in the city, in the state, in our country and in the world. For WSU Hunger Awareness Day, our class facilitated a food packaging event and a dinner where we invited participants to discuss their feelings about hunger.

People in my class have gotten excited about the idea of feeding people. “I have new passion in life. As soon as I finish grad school, I'm changing the world.” (Classmate tweets) “I'm going to feed hungry kids. It's going to happen.” “……..And if I can help people in Africa or right here at Wichita State feel like that, and have a little fun doing it, that’s an opportunity that I will take wholeheartedly.” (Classmate blog posts) “……..we will use the knowledge and wisdom that you give us to try to make a difference.”

Why don’t I get excited like that?
What happened to make me feel apathetic?
Have I done one too many food drives? Have I raised one too many dollars for worthy causes?

I still recognize that it is a good thing to feed and clothe the poor – it’s just hard to get past my own problems right now.
Somehow I feel like it is more important for me to take care of myself and my family right now than it is to take care of people I don’t know. I feel confident my desire to help others will return. I’m guessing that many of us have our priorities shifted on us, or we just ‘burn out’ on occasion.

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