Have you ever had one of those days when you would rather be somewhere else? Any place other than where you are at the moment?
I wonder if the people of Haiti ask themselves similar questions. As an outsider, it looks more like they have an unwilling acceptance of their ongoing condition. Does that leave any room for hope?
So, what were my thought processes this morning, as I dragged myself from the land of sleep into the domain of the lucid?
Well it’s Friday. The end of a rather strenuous week. A week of power failures at work and assorted deadlines. The usual economics of running a family household; even the ongoing endurance of another Canadian winter.
Do I have food? Yes. Shelter? Yes. Clean running water? Yes. Why then do I grumble at the coldness of the car in the morning, running it without conscience for 10 minutes just so that I can be “comfortable”. Who says men cannot multi-task; I can waste gas and fuel the greenhouse effect simultaneously.
On this particular morning as I shaved, I happened to take a look at my profile in the mirror and berated myself sub-consciously (and consciously) for not taking better care of myself. Vanity? Hmmm. Am I not really saying that I should look better than I do? Could it be that what I am really feeling is hurt pride at not being honest enough with myself about my inherent conceit?
As I view the Haitian people through the narrow view of a news camera lens, I can see that compared to us, they really care less about how they see themselves in a mirror. I do not believe that they are as pridefully destitute as we are, when it comes to self-aggrandizement. Well, maybe some of their corrupt officials are. In fact they are more likely attuned to the desperate instinct of survival. This then causes me to ask a question. What do they have but do not want, that we need and do not have?
Poverty? For them, yes; in no small measure. For us, we do not need poverty…although we do have it in varying degrees in Canada.
A clue can be found in the previous phrase “instinct of survival“. I wonder what makes us as Canadians feel, or move toward desperation? Is it when our bank accounts are not topped up above the level of our comfort zone? Or when we are not affirmed as we perceive we should be? I daresay the thing that we need, that is not lacking in the Haitian people, is an ongoing, on-the-edge, vulnerable understanding of the value and brevity of life that each of us have been given. It goes without saying that the majority of Haitians have learned that lesson at an incalculable cost.
Before retiring to my warm comfortable bed last night, I watched a story on the news about a Canadian from Montreal who was born in Haiti. In the aftermath of the earthquake he returned to the country of his birth to find his three month old child. He was told prior to his arrival that the child was rescued by the mother; his girlfriend, who unfortunately did not herself survive. The cameras followed him from the moment of his arrival up until his reunion with his baby boy; who miraculously survived even with severe injuries.
This man wanted to see for himself where his son was rescued from. He had a desperation that could not be ignored. When he arrived at the ruined house, the cameras could just make out his deceased girlfriend still trapped inside the rubble. You could tell from the onlookers that there was the scent of strong decay in the air. There were no international relief workers in this area as yet, and even though you could see her in the rubble, it was impossible for the ill-equipped locals to get her out. But this man did not want to believe that she was dead until he saw for himself. He was obviously heartbroken, but he had to know for himself.
I turned the TV off and sat for a moment, trying to process what I just saw. Although I have suffered loss myself, I found it difficult to formulate a reference point to identify with this man’s pain. Maybe it was due to the lack of direct exposure on my part, to the scale of what had precipitated his loss. Nevertheless as I think about it now, I am that much more determined to reschedule my departure with reality.
Taking ownership and accepting the consequences for maintaining a studied ignorance and resolving to live a life that means more than what we can get for ourselves, will allow us to appreciate not only what, but more importantly, who we have been blessed with.
Why not go and find someone to hug; not only for yourself…it may well be that they are more in need of comfort than you realize.
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