Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mignon is..

How do you decide what to worry about? Child abuse, drunk driving, genocide in Darfur, climate change? Do you pick one and shrug off the others? Do you unconsciously prioritize? What's your criteria, most to least helpless, what cause has the biggest impact on the world, where can I get the most return on my investment? Which wheel is the squeakiest? Most likely.

I have a browser tab with the photo stream from Haiti open all the time, and I refresh it every five minutes, hoping to see something that will make me feel better. Or worse. I just want to be able to feel for them, either happy and devastated, because if I am being mindful of them, each of the people I see in those photos, then they have had an impact. Their lives have rippled, in such a way that my little boat, floating across an ocean, is drawn closer. The world had collectively placed Haiti on the bottom shelf, along with endangered elephants and drug crimes in Mexican border towns. We decided to volunteer locally, give money to our neighbors, worry about our communities. And we were doing a good thing, we thought. I thought. That's what I thought.

But right now I'm thinking about the Haitian man I saw unloading bodies from a truck, picking up the boy in the navy blue shorts and white t-shirt by an ankle and a wrist and throwing him onto a pile of crushed Haitians in front of a make-shift morgue. I'm thinking about him and what he has to go home to tonight. About how he's going to lay down under a tarp to rest, but will hear only moaning and crying and singing, and how he's going to wash his face in the morning and do it again. And again and again and again. Some of the bodies he loads into his rusty black pickup will be friends and family. Some will be very young children or great-grandparents and most of them will be rotting in the next few days, and he'll be sick with the smell and lack of food.

I sent my money to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. I watch the news, I refresh my browser and look at the pictures. I read about Haiti and why it is abjectly poor. But mostly, I try to remember the faces I see, even the dead ones. And I just keep looking and feeling. Individually, it's not much, but I bet I'm not the only one.

So that's my status.