I have been counting my blessings today, and thinking about the world, and wondering how we are all going to be ok. I have a little girl with her first ear infection, her eardrum ruptured by pressure, who is already on the mend because I can get her the medical care she needs, she has a warm safe place to sleep, she has food and water and clothing. My heart today goes out to the people of Haiti, especially to the mothers, whose own hearts are breaking under the weight of crumbled buildings and lost loved ones and despair.
I have spent a lot of time today thinking about, reading about, hearing about, and looking at pictures of the people of Haiti. I have this belief that, when I am fortunate enough to not be directly affected by a disaster, I have a responsibility to think about those who are, to empathize with them, to pray for them, to imagine what it is like for them. I did this with 9/11, too - watching newscasts, looking at photographs, obsessively following NPR's endless coverage. Perhaps I do this to the detriment of my own mental health, but I see it as a small penance for being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
I suppose this habit is some form of survivor's guilt - that feeling you get when you wonder why it is that you are spared, why you are lucky enough to be born in a place where our buildings are, usually, built to standards that withstand natural disasters. It's the kind of the guilt that rises up inside as you sit at your desk, eating your afternoon apple, drinking your fresh glass of water, knowing that all of your needs will always be accounted for, your children safe. As my husband and daughter danced in the dining room while I made dinner, I thought of how fortunate I am to have this warmth in my home and my life. It is times like these that make me wonder why I am safe while others are in such turmoil. As we sat down together to eat, we prayed for those in harm's way, those impacted by the earthquake directly and those going to their aid.
Bono - one of my personal heroes - once said that his children will never have to worry about anything. They won't have to worry about where to go to school or who pays their medical bills. The result of that is that he has a responsibility to try to make sure that other people's children have what they need as well. What a refreshing statement from an incredible pop culture icon, one whose ranks are usually more concerned with fashion and drugs and celebrity. But I think he's right - and even those of us who don't have the fame and fortune of one of the world's most incredible rock bands have the responsibility to try to make the world better for other people's children. It's a small contribution, but I am proud to say I am part of the Red Cross effort that has now raised over $5 Million for relief for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. If all of us give just ten dollars, the impact is incredible.
Today at work, overwhelmed by the thought of so much suffering in the world, I found myself staring at a photo of my daughter at about 6 months, crawling around her daycare class in a white long sleeved onesie, her features still concentrated in the center of her face like a kitten, her blond hair thin and straight and wispy. I spent that moment cherishing the fact that she is whole and well and only a few miles away, watched over and cared for and safe and dry.
As I sat at the red light on Patton Avenue this evening, waiting to turn left and pick Dora up from school, NPR reporter Jason Bobian was being interviewed from Port-au-Prince. He began to cry as he tried to describe the scene around him, including an injured little girl lying in the street waiting for help. I began to cry, too, overwhelmed at the thought of the pain and suffering of others, unable to imagine how I could survive if my own little girl was ever in such a situation, or worse.
All we can do from this distance is send our prayers, our positive energy, our resources - whatever we can spare - to those families in Haiti in such desperate need. All we can do is hold our own children closer, thank God for their safety and health, pause over our bounty and pray that the relief reaches those who need it most. All we can do is find a way to help, and believe that the power of our collective, unified humanity is stronger than any force, any disaster. I hope our brothers and sisters in Haiti feel that power, feel us standing beside them and praying for them. I hope that, somehow, they know that our hearts are with them, that our prayers are being sent up to God for them, that, together, we hold them up to the light.