Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turn Over That Beetle

Scientists have revealed a fossil of a giant bug. It was 2.5 metres long and technically not a bug but an arachnid, a sea scorpion. A scorpion over 7 feet long! It got me thinking about Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. I read the novella in grade school, absolutely fascinated and horrified at the same time. I wondered what it would be like to be stuck on my back,like George, unable to turn myself over, legs waving in the air. Not being able to rescue myself, it would be certain death. What horrified me was not the sense of impending doom, but that George's family did little to help him. Oh, they tried at first, but eventually, they all but gave up on him.

I know the story has had many interpretations over the years and by scholars much more educated about such things than myself, but this story has always stuck with me because of the message I got from it. Help those who need it. Help those who are weaker. (I think Dr. Milner would be proud of me for that- read his book; it's quite funny.) Since reading that story over 30 years ago, every beetle that I have encountered stuck upside down, legs waving in the air, I have righted.

Now, to define weaker. A mom with frayed nerves and toddlers at the store who may be about to lose it. A teacher who needs extra hands at school for extracurricular activities. The food bank that needs a few more tins of soup. The young woman at the nursing home, whose life was drastically altered by progressive MS, and can no longer go out for company.

Those of us who are stronger need to look after those who are weaker. I challenge anyone to consider themselves stronger, to look for a way to help those who are weaker.

On a related note, burnout for caretakers and volunteers is all too real. Even strong people need a break, too. As in Kafka's tale, caretakers can build up resentment if their needs aren't looked after and it's not good for the caretaker or the caretakee.

Turn over that beetle.


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