November 19, 2010

Cholera, Sledgehammers, and Hope?

Cholera- Yes, its thriving in Haiti. Yes, Hurricane Tomas made it worse. Yes, completely preventable. What if you do get it? Yes, completely treatable. So why are so many dying? Lack of clean water. So many still live in Haiti, and all around the world, without clean water. This is a human right. The cure to cholera is CLEAN water, salt and sugar.

Sledgehammering concrete and rebar. Hmmmm. Not what I planned I would be doing with my college degree. But after a quick reflection, there is nothing else I would rather be doing with my Jesuit education. We work along side Haitian volunteers. Yes, there is a language barrier. But there is something about teamwork that unites people that we would be tempted to say are from different worlds. So as Wizmey and I work together going shot for shot at this rebar with our sledgehammers, we are united. Together. In the same place. In the same earth. For this moment, I recognize that we are brothers. So after we finish, we haul out the 15ft piece of steel that used to support a roof. Together we re-establish a foundation under all the rubble. Together we make eye contact and fist pound. Together we realize our inter-connectedness. No words, just a smile and a handshake.

Hope. More than a word? An idea? A dream? One sweet lady who has been living in Haiti for 26 years told me that she has hope because she cannot bear the other side. So we have to hope things can only get better. We have to hope that these refugee camps with transform. Thats what we hope for, transformation. From sickness to health. From darkness to light. From loneliness to community. There is so much negative energy in Haiti. The trauma- we cannot begin to imagine. When we get into a car accident, observe a disaster, we experience trauma. Haitians live in a culture of trauma. The poorest country in the western hemispere collectively witnessed the traumatic effect of the earthquake. Death, in every aspect. Everyone who I spoke to in Haiti was affected. So amidst all the trauma and suffering, we ask for hope. Hope to transform all the negative energy to positivity. I am new to this country and admit to being a bit naive in my observations. However, I do belive that out of darkness must come light.

Lets hope the upcoming elections bring the Haitian people freedom to be people. Because living in those refugee camps, with no opportunity, dying of preventable diseases, and living at the mercy of international aid is not a life for our Haitian brothers and sisters. But this is not where the Haitian people have hope. In government. Hah! They do not understand anything other than corruption. So where do we dare to hope?

Where do we have the power to not just have blind, idealistic optimistic, and unrealistic hope? We have the power to control ourselves, we simply need to have hope in our own lives, and have this be the way we look at the world. Yes, the individual transformation is where realistic hope takes root. And just one person can transform their life, then spread that positivity and hope to their family, then to a community, then to all of society. A person 2000 years ago walked this earth. A bit crazy. Not too popular. But he lived in relationship with all of humanity preaching hope amidst suffering. Not against the corrupt polition, with him. Yes, the sinner can be transformed. Yes, the prostitute can be forgiven. He understood the suffering in the world. He did not flea from it. He suffered with the people. He did not destroy hatred, classism, pride, and greed. He transcended them by his perfect example. And he shared stories that invited us to transcend. We have the invitation to believe in hope. Waiting. Waiting. So what do we do with our invitation?

Who will be the next MLK, Ghandi, Desmund Tutu? Yes, there will be more. But we do not need to be heros. We need to be ourselves. Compassionate, forgiving, and free. Willing to suffer with in order to heal. We do not need to go to Haiti. Haha, that is the bigest illusion that we belive is true. That we need to go out and heal the world. NO. It starts within. We all suffer, feel lonely, and hurt. But that feeling goes away, right? How? A sign of love from another, who shows that you are not alone. That is the power of transformation. Its only nature. The day will transform into night. Right? So lets open the doors to suffering and joy. Lets have hope that suffering will transform into joy. Lets understand that we all feel these emotions. Lets share the experience called life. Lets understand the power of a kind word and the value of a smile. Right here, right now, with who ever you are with. And let that positive vibration radiate to all those we encounter. We have the power to be happy now. Smile. And share it! But share it today.

So when we have hope, we live in hope. Its not an ideal, its a way we live our lives. Upful and bright. So when we look at a world in all her suffering, lets be good to each other. There is hope in that. We are all invited :)

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