Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK's Monday

When you boil about it, Martin Luther King, Jr. was about courage. The courage to stand up for what he believed in, the courage of his convictions that his approach was the approach that could turn the tide, the courage to know that he might not make it to the mountaintop but that that mountaintop could be reached. And he was right in all his courageous glory. We have an African-American president, have for a year now and we just call him Mr. President like every other white guy before him. Imagine the courage it took Barak Obama to declare he was worthy to be president and ride it on through to win.

All amazing feats begin with and idea but are carried through by courage. And like the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz - we all have it in us - we just don't know it is there.

With a nod to the courage in all of us - may it see us through any challenge, any strife, any doubt in the dark hours of the night. And, most especially, courage to those in Haiti and around the world whose lives truly call for the deepest strength to survive.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday and Haiti

I sat down this afternoon with the idea of posting about the Sunday blues I inevitably get every unplanned Sunday afternoon. I opened my browser, the NY Times home page came up and I was humbled out of my comfortable ennui by a photo of a man, his head buried in his arms praying inside a cracked but still standing church in Port-au-Prince. And I realized how fortunate I am to be able to feel something like the Sunday blues. How lucky to live in such comfort here in the US that I can feel down just for having a dull day on my hands. I sit here with laundry to do, my house just cleaned, a work project I am avoiding and well, just a rainy Sunday afternoon in the city. I don't really have anything I want to do but go for a run, I don't have anything that has to be done today and that seems like something to feel down about. While this poor man has suffered untold loss his family? his home? his entire life as he knew it?

I scroll through the rest of the photos and see people praying, they're hands raised to the sky pain on their faces. I am not a religious person but I pray sometimes, meditate, think a lot about the bigger picture and my role in it. If I were struck with such a tragedy I'd like to know I'd have the conviction to reach to heaven for some salvation. Another photo is of a young boy waiting, his eyes anxious for bags of water for his family. What if I had to send my son to "wait for bags of water" instead of just turning on the tap and letting it run over our hands, into our Brita for not only a fresh drink but filtered of all impurities, too. The next photo shows a young boy his hands raised to the sky not in prayer but as he and a man are confronted by police in the wake of looters. Later a body burns on the streets, a looter killed by a mob. Oh my word, it is a cushy life we live, I should be more grateful.

Still it does not stymie my discontent, I am horrified by the loss, the pain and I feel more down, more useless, more pointless than ever. I should volunteer, should help somehow make it better. We sent money, the kids' school is planning a dance-a-thon next week. Still . . .

Once I read something about how when people lose it all it makes life so much simpler. It becomes about survival and that in itself is simple. I could see that, I don't wish it for myself, my family or anyone else for that matter, but I get it. Watched a movie last night, "The Hurt Locker" and it points that up - a great movie - really intense - beautifully shot by a woman director - about an army bomb squad in Iraq. As the movie progresses a "cowboy" kind of guy joins the squad and we watch how he tempts fate unconcerned with the danger he faces. Then, he ends his tour and goes home and finds the array of cereal boxes in his local grocery store overwhelmingly mundane. He re-enlists because at least in harm's way what he is doing makes sense.

Life doesn't make sense a lot of the time: tragedy, depression, war, loss. And in those times I guess the only logical response is to reach for love. Maybe it is the only thing that does make sense. So tonight I held me kids a little tighter and worked a little harder to make dinner tasty - because that is some form of survival, too, right?

With thoughts, prayers, peace and strength and most of all love to all those affected by the Haitian earthquake.