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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Different worlds

Haitian girl

Tonight as I sat down on the couch to watch American Idol with my family, I looked around and thought how wonderful it was that were all in the same room, enjoying the show together. Then, in an instant my thoughts were interrupted by the idea that somewhere in Haiti tonight there are families who haven't heard from their loved ones since the earthquake hit. Or worse, who know that their husbands or wives or children are dead. It struck me how different that world is from mine and how insulated I am in my own world.

I don't often watch the news. In the mornings, I'm too busy getting everyone out the door. In the evenings, either the kids are dominating the TV or I'm busy getting dinner or driving a carpool somewhere. By the time the late night news is on, I'm generally already asleep on the couch.

So when I was meeting with my boss this afternoon and she got a text from her husband saying that it's feared that hundreds of thousands of Haitians died in the quake, it took me a second to realize what she was talking about. I saw a few Facebook updates and Tweets yesterday mentioning prayers for Haiti, but I confess that I didn't know why Haiti needed prayers and I didn't take the time to ask. My boss was visibly disturbed at the news.

Sitting there at work today, hearing about so many dead, left me a little numb. I did send a note to women on my retreat team from church, urging them to remember our CRHP sister Marie who came to America from Haiti some years ago and who still has family and friends in the country. But beyond that I couldn't wrap my head around the reality of the situation. Maybe because I hadn't seen pictures of the destruction. Maybe because it seems so far removed from my world where my biggest concern today was whether or not the Transformers puzzle would make a good birthday gift for my nephew.

I sat in a grocery store tonight passing out information about Fit City, surrounded by aisle upon aisle of organic foods, bulk rice in 10 different varieties, and an olive bar for crying out loud, giving little to no thought to the people of Haiti whose lives have literally been uprooted and thrown back down with terrifying force.

When I think about it, I'm ashamed that I am so self-involved that the tragedy hasn't been on my mind more. A friend of mine said she went to Mass tonight to offer prayers for the people of Haiti and that the priest was quite shaken by what's happened. Why am I not feeling this more deeply? Why am I so unaffected?

Have I become one of those spoiled, arrogant Americans? Am I really so self-centered that my heart has grown two sizes too small?

Sure, part of me thinks what can I do about Haiti from my life in Central Indiana? The answer is, aside from prayer and a monetary donation, not much. But there are needs in my own community that I can fill. There are families going to bed hungry, people in nursing homes wondering if the world has forgotten them, homeless men and women sleeping in the cold tonight.

I'm not sure where I'm going to go with this. But I do know that my eyes have been re-opened and that I can't pretend that those other worlds don't exist any more.


Eternal Lizdom said...

Don't feel guilty. That's the main thing. Please don't.

I think you've already thought about it more than many other people in this country.

And I think that God knows your concern and hears your heart's prayer. Even if you don't hear it as clearly.

Joanne said...

Amy - first your heart is NOT two sizes too small. You have proven it by posting this thought provoking post today. We as humans do get caught up with our day to day lives. Sometimes we put too much stock on what is happening in our backyard and forget the horrors in the rest of the world.

Take for example how everyone remembers with clarity the losses of 9/11 - remember it each year and never ever let anyone forget. Even though a couple of years later the Tsunami hit Indonesia after Christmas and 10 times the people lost their lives, or we could talk about Darfur etc etc etc.

I think as long as we never turn off our hearts to what is happening, donate when we can where we can and realize we share this earth with people who suffer daily. Our hearts will remain the correct size.

kimybeee said...


I know exactly where you are coming from. I don't watch the news either. I was seeing updates as I logged onto the computer on the msn page. I kinda had the "what does this have to do with me" attitude. Then I opened my e-mail.

We have a prayer e-mail chain and all of a sudden it had something to do with me. One of our friend's Dad is in Haiti on a mission trip. Of course, our friend was on her way to Disney with her kids and husband and her Mom didn't want to tell her that they couldn't reach her Dad. In just a blink, it became more real. So all of us were just waiting for word. Today we got the praise e-mail that Connie's Dad hadn't communicated directly, but the mission group had gotten out word that they were okay.

We all should be grateful for what we have. We are better off on our worst day than most of the Haitians are on their best day. Hopefully aid will reach them and help them survive this trajedy.


Crystal Escobar said...

Hey I'm a new follower to your blog and I love it. I love American Idol!
So sad about Haiti :(

Michelle said...

You're not the only one, Amy. I have had trouble with it for many of the same reasons you mentioned-- not watching the news, being insulated. Then my 7-yr-old came crying to me last night after hearing that thousands were dead on the radio (listening to Klove, a positive encouraging Christian music station). That brought me to the realization of how big this thing is. Keep praying. God is listening to us.

Amy said...

Thanks ladies for the encouragement. Sometimes we need someone else to hold the mirror up when we can't see things as they are for ourselves.

Crystal -- WELCOME! Glad to have you hear.

Martha said...

Well said. I was in a "bubble" the day then news of Haiti broke. One of the few days that I was not "connected", so I was a little late coming to realize what had taken place. There is so much suffering each day in the world, we as individuals can only do so much -as you said donate what we can and pray.

Shelley said...

I am a total news junkie, so I've been watching coverage from Haiti for the past few days and experiencing some inner writhing at the helplessness I feel. You wrote this on Wednesday and I am commenting the following Monday, so some things have changed in Haiti since you posted, but not enough.

Watching is just painful. A reporter this morning said that SIX ACRES of bottled water, food and medical supplies have been offloaded from aircraft that have flown in - the only problem now is actually getting it to the people.

I just heard a top-of-the-hour newsbreak on the radio and the announcer said that anarchy is breaking out in Port-au-Prince. *tears*

We can donate some money and we can pray: that's all it seems that we can do from central Indiana.

And your heart is definitely not two sizes too small. You have one of the biggest hearts going. (((hug)))