On Watching a World Burn From a Distance

by Hengtee Lim

Far from the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia all of us can stand with our neighbors and share our unconditional love, comfort, and support. This is our shared armor, courage, and strength against all forms of hatred and violence. We must stand. As the poem states in the last lines, “…sometimes, to watch a fire burn and do nothing, is to invite that fire to spread….After all, we all share the forest.”

The following poem was first posted after the French Bastille Day (July 14, 2016) terror attacks were reported in Tokyo. Hengtee Lim was profoundly affected by the news – at first feeling quite helpless. Following are excerpts from his blog post describing his journey to hopefulness – and why it was so necessary. To read the entire post, go here.

I once thought that to be in touch with every life as it sputters, or halts, or fades to a stop might simply be too much for a person to handle.

A weight impossible to carry alone.

But even one life, all on its own, can be impossibly heavy.

War, guns, violence, terrorism.

Racism, sexism, outrage, inequality.

Murders, suicides, death.

Lies, ignorance, passivity, pain.


And somewhere in all of that, hope?

I hope.

fireIt is a strange thing to watch a world burn from a distance. To feel sad for a people who are not your own, and lives you will never know, and souls you will never meet.

To only see that they were taken, in the title of a news story.

It is strange to feel despair for a very special kind of pain — one you are fortunate to not understand completely.

But sometimes, to watch a fire burn and do nothing, is to invite that fire to spread.

After all, we all share the forest.

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