Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thoughts on Haiti


I know everybody is well aware by now of the massive 7.0 quake which devastated the already desperate nation of Haiti on January 12.

Since then, the Haitian people have not once been far from my mind. Being here, I feel a mixture of guilt and helplessness. It's a bitter concoction of knowing that I want to do more, but not knowing how. I feel guilty because I have a roof over my head and many of these people do not. I feel guilty because my fridge houses an abundance of food and fresh water and so many Haitians are hungry and thirsty right now as I type this. I feel guilty because as I go about my daily business and watch their tragedy unfold on my big-screen TV these people are experiencing hell on earth. I feel guilty for not doing more to give a voice to the people in the world who may not be receiving worldwide media attention, but whose situations are just as bleak. Darfur, Congo, Cambodia. And that's just to name a few.

I mention this only because I don't want us to forget that while Haiti certainly needs us to step up to the plate for them right now, other countries are in turmoil as well. Their stories are just heard less.

In any case, I am extremely proud to be not only Canadian, but North American today. I don't recall ever seeing this level of outpouring on a country that was not our own and it warms my heart to see people so willing to give something of themselves. That includes sending money to a broken nation - maybe doing without a family meal at McDonalds or a couple of runs to Starbucks. Seems like a small price to pay when it's put that way, doesn't it?

The issue is that even those who survived the quake are now faced with this second dilemma of not being able to meet their own basic human needs; the need for food and water. Not to mention the need for shelter and safety.

You all know I've had a tough couple years having lost so many of my closest loved ones. Well, think of those Haitians who have lost their entire families in one shot. It's hard to imagine because it seems so far away. The toll that the aftermath of this natural disaster is having on them, not just physically but emotionally, is incomprehensible. If any of you have lost somebody who means the world to you, you know what I'm talking about. Now think of losing everybody who means the world to you. Plus your house and all your means of survival.

If we are not inclined to help the Haitians, then God help us.

On Tuesday it will be two weeks since the earthquake. Haiti is still all over the news, but I've noticed it petering off somewhat in the past couple of days. That's showbiz. What happens when the novelty of the story completely wears off and other news stories begin to trickle in? Will we mentally remove ourselves from the situation? My hope is that this will not become an out-of-sight-out-of-mind problem as the shocking photos and headlines gradually diminish. To let this fade out of our consciousness would be to take a sad situation and make it more sad. It's going to require more than a little while to rebuild a country from the ground up.

I know not everybody agrees, but personally I feel that not only would it be nice if we did whatever we could to help, we also have a responsibility to help. In turn, if we don't help, we are being irresponsible. Rwanda comes to mind. And well, the holocaust, for that matter. If helping for you means fifty cents, then that's still help. Any help is better than no help, no matter how you spin it. 

There are so many places to donate, but beware of scams. For a list of reputable organizations, click here: DONATE!

Canadians, for an easy way to donate without having to give out credit card information, text "AID" to 45678. Shortly after you do, you will receive a text back. Reply to that text with "YES" to donate $5. That five bucks will be added to your phone bill at the end of the month.

Americans, same deal, except you text "HAITI" to 90999 and donate $10 per text.

Like I said, I am so proud to be North American today. The way everybody is pitching in makes me feel like maybe we really are who we say we are.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2010

A new year.

What will 2010 bring? I have hopes for it; hopes for growth, peace, love, and happier times. I am resolving to not make any resolutions, but rather to try and take every opportunity I have to better myself as a person.

I have not been blogging as regularly as I would like in these past few months. There are several reasons for this, some of which include school becoming particularly crazy from November-December, during Christmas I wanted to soak up as much time with those I love as possible, and I have had some other things in the works that have been demanding my time and attention.

I miss writing. And by that I mean writing things that flow from my heart and soul as opposed to gigantic, meaningless research papers that suck the life out of me. It's been a long time since I've been able to sit down at my beloved MacBook and just let some of the thoughts and ideas floating around in my head reveal themselves. With the exception of my monthly letters to Daddy, of course.

Speaking of which, a few weeks ago I decided that my December letter to Daddy would be my last public letter. Even such a small decision as that was extremely difficult for me to make because I do not in any way want people to think I'm "over it" or finished grieving. The untimely death of Daddy continues to impact my life on a daily basis to the point where some days I do not even recognize myself. I don't know that I'll ever completely come to terms with it or that the shock will ever wear off. Of course there has been some sort of progress, but whether or not my progress appropriately follows the textbook example of the "grieving process" is highly debatable at best.

I do not regret writing these letters and making them public because I had a purpose behind doing so right from the beginning. My purpose was to let anybody and everybody who cared to read what I had to say know about this amazing man who happened to be my father. I wanted to honour him by making it public knowledge that although his time with us was relatively short, his was a life well-lived. THAT is why I wrote the article for the Globe & Mail. THAT is why I have continued to make monthly postings in letter-format to him. Of course, I also hope that he is somehow able to get the messages I've been sending...

I think I've accomplished that goal. Daddy's memory is also being kept alive by his friends who formed the "Ray Palmer Legacy Foundation" and all the others who do little things to pay tribute to him.

So why stop? There are several reasons.

1.) As I previously said, I feel my purpose in making these letters public has been accomplished. I still want everyone to know how special he was, but I am currently exploring other avenues for doing this.
2.) I don't have to censor this blog, but I feel the pressure to because I'm aware that there are several people who read this thing but don't comment. My letters to Daddy will continue, but they will be personal and uncensored, i.e., I can express my innermost thoughts and feelings without worrying about who will think what about what.
3.) Death has sort of become a theme for me in the past couple years, and it clearly shows on this blog. I am aware that people probably aren't interested in reading about death constantly. To be frank, my monthly letters were not intended to be for the reading pleasure of anyone. It was something I did in part for myself but mostly for Daddy. I'm sure the theme will arise again in future posts as it has so forcibly pushed its way to the forefront of my life, but as for the letters, I really feel it's time to make them personal and to make room for other topics of discussion on this blog. Especially considering that I never originally intended to share anything about my personal life here but rather discuss issues and topics of interest.

Not to mention that now I also have another grandmother that I'll probably be writing letters to as well...

So 2010 may look a little different around here. In any case, I plan to continue blog-a-ling, and hope that maybe I have some readers who are willing to come along with me for the ride.

Here's to hoping for an eventful (in a good way) 2010.

<3