Let these fill your thoughts for a moment:

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Irma

To name just a few of the most recent.  I spend a week in St. Maarten every December with my employers and my niece.  St. Maarten is a study in contrasts, as are most islands in the Carribean. Breathtaking views, ocean blues, and waves.  Restaurants dotting beaches, and harbors.  And the little that the people of St. Maarten have.  The ramshackle shacks, the mind bending traffic and the feel of being just a breath away from ruin. Now, devastation like I have never seen.  People unable to evacuate because they live on an island and the other nearby islands are in the same horrific state.  I’ve poured over pictures.  Seeing the familiar signs but with the topography forever changed.  Some places unrecognizable from the delightful places where I’ve soaked up sun and surf.

The horror from Harvey is just as devastating except for one thing.  These people on St. Martin has so little to begin with and now even that is gone.  They don’t have the infrastructure that the US does.  To rebuild, let alone restore power, and water, people must come from off-island.  Building supplies, water, food, all must be shipped or flown in. And these people have lost their income for the foreseeable future as well.  They are dependent on tourist dollars to survive and to rebuild.  But now despair, and fear rule the country, especially when the sun goes down.  The French and Dutch armies have arrived.  Tourists are finally being evacuated to safe places.

So while Harvey and Irma were awful, water could be trucked in from neighboring states.  Power company employees from other states were quickly on the ground to help restore power.  FEMA, insurance companies are already working to financially help people.  It isn’t pretty and rebuilding will take months but they still have help that the islands don’t.

My employers say we’ll still go, if it is safe, in order to pump some money into the economy.  It is hard to imagine power, water and communications being restored in a few months time.  It is hard to see how order will be restored when their collective psyche is of fear, need and despair.

I can’t look away.  I feel like to look away is to deny the reality.  To be comfortable in my privilege and think, “that is too depressing”.  Yes, yes it is.  Imagine living it.  I have given financially to help in the smallest of ways.  And wish there was more I could do.

Yes, my heart is heavy.  I found this.  I keep going back to it.  To the images it raises and the peace it speaks of.  Then I return to the news to bear witness.

 

Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s might be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds,

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I reset in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Barry

 

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What do you say the day after?  How many of you had trouble sleeping last night with those images in my head?  I did.  I keep feeling like I’m in some weird alternate universe and I can’t get home.

Has America always been like this?  Have I been delusional that we were a country of moral integrity (not perfect, I quickly say)?  That we were a nation of immigrants not white supremacists?  That we accepted diversity and valued the rights of all instead of some?  Is this what making America great again looks like?

The hatred, bigotry, the violence is incredible.  That of course is my view from the privilege I have always lived in.  And somehow I just didn’t get my own privilege.   Have I felt discriminated against?  Yes, by virtue of being a woman.  But no one has ever threatened me with gas chambers or hurled racial epitaphs at me.  I move freely about my country.  I enjoy a comfortable life.  I have a good job and enough money for basics…and more.

Our Tweeter-in-chief was silent for most of the day.  He who tweets hateful things daily was silent in the face of this.  When he finally did speak he talked about hate “from many sides.”  He, of the hate filled tweets, couldn’t call out the white supremacists.  His aides are busy trying to say he called out all hate in the strongest terms.  No.  No he did not.  And frankly this wasn’t a day for all hate…it was a day to react to what we had all seen on our TV’s.  Young men with torches parading on a peaceful college campus.  Young men who came dressed in riot gear and prepared for what they were about to unleash.  A person who thought the way to solve anything was to drive his car into a crowd of pedestrians.  Lord have mercy.

I think this is a turning point for my country.  Either we stand up, stand for, the things we always thought this country was about, or we continue down dark road the likes of which we have never seen.

Can you see what is happening?  Can we, do we have the will to stop it?

Dear Lord have mercy on us all.

Life is Good

"It's ironic that we

forget so often how

wonderful life really is...

C'mon, let's be honest.

We have an embarrassment

of riches. Life is good."

-Anne Quindlen

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