My husband drops his voice lower—“You didn’t do it again did you?” He looks in my eyes. “You did do it.” Ally, this has to stop. We just had this conversation, you promised me that you would stop.”
“I can’t help it,” I tell him.
“Why? Why can’t you just stop?”
“Because no one else is doing it.”
“Well, how are you feeling? Are you nervous?” He asks.
“I think it is safe to say that paranoid is an understatement. I am sure this time someone will try to find out who I am and silence me.”
“You are serious aren’t you? This has to stop. We cannot live like this! What did you post exactly?”
I show him my most recent activity.
I can’t stop. It has been two years since I became aware of a pastoralist tribe in East Africa that has been subjected to repeated raids from their own government’s military police. My personal connection to these people was formed when I lived with them, for a short time, through a university program. The struggles they have endured in recent years have been intense: famine, cholera, typhoid, cattle raids, drought, starvation and violent military attacks.
I have tried many times to disengage, to distance myself. For the sake of my kids, my husband, myself—but I always go back. I can walk away from a lot of what I know, if I really try hard enough. I discovered ways to quiet those stories until they fade to a faint murmur. But I cannot detach myself from one story; there is one that I cannot quiet. So, I keep going back.
It is the image of a mother, caught in the crossfire while breastfeeding her infant. I cannot turn away. I have tried over and over, but I cannot. The moment I heard her story, it became a part of mine. So I post it, late at night, on foreign websites, hoping that someone, somewhere reads it and feels the same way I do—morally outraged.