Sunday, January 17, 2010

Begin at the beginning

The other day I saw a comment on a blog I follow that said, "I'm distressed by the lack of postings drawing attention to the devastation in Haiti."

Guiltily I realized that I was one of the bloggers she was referencing.  Not only had I not written about the devastation, but by day 2, I hadn't even thought about it that much.  Which of course made me start thinking.

I'm not one of those hard core types who isn't moved by the plight of others.  When you've been through as much as we have, you don't hear about someone else's hardship without thinking, There but for the grace of God go I.  I pray for people I read about in the newspaper; and when I know about a need--a young widower with multiple children who is struggling to keep it together, or the family recently hit with a father's cancer diagnosis, I know what you do, organize a group to provide what they need until life straightens out a bit.

But for Haiti, I had no solutions, no recourse.  Any effort I made would feel like picking up roadside trash next to the Apocalypse.  And so I did nothing, felt nothing.  Until one day I logged in to my computer and saw this:

How many times have I seen that look on my own children's faces when they had been away from me, crying and tired and then there I was, the whole universe in one human package.  This tiny child is living in a hell my kids never thought about, but look at him, that little face so open and joyful because, at least for now, he has all that he needs.

And with that, my heart broke for Haiti.  My efforts will not yield great work.  I don't have the capacity to give and rebuild a village.  I can't afford the time or finances to travel there and my help would surely not be help at this point.  All I can do is stand, nameless and faceless, along with the thousands of nameless and faceless Haitians and carry my teaspoon of water back and forth from the well, praying that at some point it becomes enough to quench one person's thirst.  I can give small amounts so that those who are doing something can keep doing it, and I can pray--for added strength for rescue workers, for airport landing strips to miraculously open, for families to find each other, and for my own heart to understand that if this tragedy will test the Haitian people, it will test us as well.

Our nation, battered by war, unemployment and economic distress, still possesses a will for good unlike any nation on the globe.  Weakened, we must abandon our typical go-it-alone mentality in favor of humility, cooperation and partnerships, willing ourselves to trade the satisfaction of credit for the subtler joy of anonymity.
Go big or go home, is a pretty common phrase here in Supersize land.

Well this time, I'm not going anywhere.

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