“Is this guilt that I’m feeling?”
I did not have to battle a blaze with my own two hands. I didn’t lose a home. I didn’t have to escape with my kids and the clothes on my back.
I feel guilty because I have compassion fatigue. We want to support those communities who are right now experiencing very real hardship. These recent bushfires have been some of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history.
We’re overcome with emotion as images of ferocious flames engulfing towns fill our Facebook feed. We see photos of homes completely flattened by the heat and the force of the fire. TV shows replay footage of distressed koalas, seriously burnt and crying for water.
We cry. We point the finger. We question how we’ll move forward. And for many across Geelong, the healing process begins by contributing to the rebuilding of the towns affected by the ongoing New Year’s fires.
For weeks I’ve witnessed compassion, love and willingness beyond your means to help someone you have never met. Businesses making direct donations. Small businesses using their platform to host an event or hold a fundraiser. Geelong locals donating proceeds and selling products to raise vital funds. Musicians are putting on benefit gigs while celebrities are making sizable donations.
I applaud your heart and your spirit. It’s kind. It’s generous.
It can also be overwhelming and suffocating. Let me explain.
The problem can seem so big. It can feel consuming, to the point of feeling powerless. You don’t want to sit back. I don’t want to stand back. However, it seems that with every idea, comes with the expectation that people will join the campaign. Followers will join the cause. People will pledge. People will purchase.
How far can our generosity stretch? Will I let someone down?
I hope no one is using this devastation to leverage their own profile or grow their business. I believe (and sincerely hope) people are putting the needs of others before their own ego.
So, to you reading this, feeling the same way I am. It’s ok to donate within your means. Whatever you donate, it is enough. No one is expecting you to sell your home. No one is asking you to go without dinner.
Thoughts and prayers do not restore communities alone. It is positive and proactive action now and long term that will regenerate these towns. And that’s just as simple as giving up a morning coffee #fiverforfiries or something much larger. Plan a trip to the fire-affected communities when it is safe, book accommodation and buy from their shops. Keep their economy going. Think about where your money will help and who it will help. And think about what you are passionate about. Donate your money there.
But once you’ve made your donation, get off social media, close your laptop and go outside. Read a book. Take a walk. Breathe. Because compassion fatigue is real and you need to look after your mental health first. Do not underestimate the mental and emotional toll these fires will have on you. And do not feel guilty!
Stampsy is the K rock Music Director and one half of the Drive Show ‘Departure Lounge’. You can read more on IG @lee_stamps and FB @StampsyKROCK