I started writing my love letter to Mali back in September. My heart was already breaking for all the people I met, and those I hadn’t met. I was already anxious for the wellbeing of the rich cultural sites and Islamic texts.
In the interim, things have gone from bad to worse. As I wrote each subsequent chapter of my love letter, things continued to deteriorate.
I have heard from someone I met while I was there. He asked for money. He has had to move his whole family from Timbuktu to Mopti. Thank God they are all safe, but he has no way to get money to feed them.
I am paralyzed by a sense of impotence. Sure, I can wire him some money. But, as soon as my focus broadens just a smidge, I am paralyzed again. How can sending a few dollars to one person help the situation at all?
And, to be completely honest, there is a part of me that worries about how my money would be spent. I only spent a few hours with this person. What if they are somehow on the wrong side of things? Or, in such dire straights that they are forced to support the wrong side?
As I struggle with my own tiny dilemma, the world is struggling with the bigger picture. How do we save the Malians? How do we save the historical sites? How do we prevent the militants who have taken over from using Mali (and Algeria and Libya) as a home base to spread terror across the region, and the world?
It is a frightening time, and a perilous situation.
As I sit back, paralyzed, impotent, ashamed, and watch it unfold, I continue to send my love to Mali and its people.