Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Greater Tragedy

I subscribe to a couple of email news alert sites: CNN, NPR and the New York Times. I'm sure they pretty much overlap each other, but that's alright. At least I'm sure to receive the latest news when extraordinary circumstances warrant it.

The downside to being "in the know" is, frankly, being "in the know." While I'm grateful for the notification, I will admit that every time I see one in my in-box, the very first thing that runs through my head is, "now what?" I've learned that news-bulletin newsworthiness is in the eye of the beholder. Topics range from political stuff on both the international and domestic stage (which frankly are of varying degrees of importance), to national news alerts (which are mostly important) to major sports scores (world series winners, etc.) to miscellanea (generally not terribly important when you get right down to it). Last week was definitely hot in number of emails received focusing on the less than important (Simon Cowell leaving American Idol!), but with each and every email I muttered, "Lord, now what?" read the email and then deleted it, usually without a second thought.


Today I got back from lunch and a CNN news alert was waiting for me in my inbox.  After the obligatory mutterings, I opened it up and read that the estimate of lives lost in Haiti was "hundreds of thousands."  For a minute I thought I read that wrong.  HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS.  Not just thousands.  Hundreds of Thousands.  My stomach dropped, my heart broke and I just shook my head.  I couldn't believe it.

It's interesting what people choose to do and say in any given situation, but especially, I think, when trouble or tragedy strike.  I hesitate to call it a "parent thing" or a "woman thing" but to me -- as both a parent and a woman -- my very first inclination is to find out what I can do to help.  The discussion can come later.  The same holds true for any finger-pointing, deconstruction of events, or the ridiculously pious, generally unnecessary, yet often mandatory recitation of lessons learned.  No, I say!  DO first.  DO and DO and DO and DO some more.  TALK about it later.  Much later.


Today, on the heels of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS, and in the midst of my gut reaction to wonder what I could DO for people who were hurting and desperate for help,  and reading the many Facebook and Twitter messages about organizations and opportunities to assist came a lone voice.  And this lone voice decided that in the midst of tragedy centered in the heart of a city destroyed, in a country filled with mothers and fathers and children -- all fellow inhabitants of this wonderful, fragile planet earth -- that what they needed was a good religious spanking.  And the horrible feeling in my stomach grew as I wondered what kind of person chooses a rambling, nonsensical half-baked story about the French occupation, Napoleon and compacts with the Devil as a way to chastise an entire country who has lost HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of people, and whose needs at present are focused on food, water, medical assistance, care and compassion. What kind of person blames first? In the face of any natural disaster, what kind of person blames at all?

If you told me it was a religious man, I'd like tell you that I couldn't believe it.
But the overwhelmingly sad and horrible part is, I can believe it,
which makes it all the worse.

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