Letter: What Can I Do?

What can I do? The more I watch television and what is going on in the world, the more this question keeps running through my head.

I am a 48-year-old, happily married woman with two amazing teenage boys and wonderful, aging parents. My husband and I are two professional, working adults who have always gotten over life’s “bumps in the road” fairly unscathed, and have shared a very stable and happy life with the anticipation of a continued, content future together. So why am I writing this letter?

The other day, I was watching television with my husband beside me, and yet again was hit with the horror of seeing ISIS and two men from Japan who were now being threatened. My children were at their respective high schools, and we were simply eating lunch together and catching up. We watched it for a few minutes, and then I proceeded to turn the station to something my stomach could tolerate, The Big Bang Theory. The day went on uneventfully.

A few days later, it was uncovered that one of the men I had seen had been murdered. I felt ashamed of myself. Not because I hadn’t done anything to stop the violence, because I trust our military is working to accomplish this, but rather because I had simply “changed the channel” from something I had emotional trouble viewing. I cannot believe that my solution to my own discomfort was to change the channel and look away from reality, as opposed to trying to figure out something, anything, to do.

I am a Jewish-American of Eastern European descent and the second generation of Holocaust survivors. I am no stranger to the suffering of many cultural groups who have been tortured and oppressed throughout history, so I feel strongly that I should be doing something other than “changing the channel.”

And that is why the question has arisen. I have discussed this with my husband and my mother, both of whom suggested the writing of letters. But who do I tell? And what do I write? And how do I appropriately express how appalled I am that I find myself without direction regarding this subject? I find myself not learning from history, and watching with the same semi-indifference that others watched as they viewed snippets of information during World War II through movie reels and radio.

I know that alone, I can’t be the answer, but I am more than willing, and wanting, to be part of a solution, so that I can watch The Big Bang Theory for relaxation, as opposed to distraction, having known that I didn’t simply turn away from the really important things that are currently facing our children’s world right now. So… what can I do?

Stephanie Fineman, Lake Worth


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