Thursday, January 14, 2010


2010 is off to a surreal start... The devastating earthquake in Haiti has riveted us, and we casually and conveniently text our dollars to support the cause of relief. Modern technology is a wondrous things...makes Good Samaritan acts so easy. Care for the dying at the click of a buttton. And really, I don't mean this sarcastically...the thought of people dying under rubble does not warrant that response; rather, it devastates--and if a response can be made in a matter of seconds, than I will make it. I personally can't text my dollars (not since I dropped my cell phone in the toilet anyway), but my husband can and did. He said he was angered by the ignorant comments-- Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, and his father on a rant of moral superiority against the midde east. But I wonder if his response has another source... His Haitian students stayed home this week...I wonder if his response is more toward those empty classroom chairs.

Me, I get to make board votes about charitable collections via email-- motioning this way and that way for the greater good. I'll write out my check faithfully on Sunday, and hope that some relief will come to someone somewhere in the wake of devastation. Again, a response in a matter of seconds.

My husband is not the only one with empty classroom chairs. Tomorrow, Newburgh city schools are closed--not because of the earthquake, and not to get a head start on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. No, they are closed because a 17- year old boy is dead, and a 13- year old boy is in jail. They are closed because other kids are fighting, and retaliation is brewing, and The Outsiders is suddenly real in my back yard... No, wait, I live across the river, in my safe little harbor... And the only reason I know about the Newburgh stabbing was because I had plans to meet up with a couple other UU dreamers at the library to plan a Martin Luther King conversation about service. Only the first time I tried to drive there at night, I couldn't find the library--and driving around the streets of the most dangerous city in New York State without a GPS didn't make me feel very safe. So we rescheduled-- except now the library is closed, as are all the schools, due to this safety emergency and fear of retaliation.

Yes, 2010 is off to a strange and scary start... I have this feeling suddenly that I have waded in with my idealism and found myself over my head. Not that I haven't had this feeling before-- assault in the Bronx; suicide and domestic violence in Pine Ridge; sniper shootings and anthrax drills in PG County, MD. (The words get a little overused. It's the faces behind them that stick.)

So, I had this great idea to save the world.. and this year, Newburgh seemed the place to begin. And in the mix of all this, other synergies annd positive flames have brought the dream closer-- friends who are making common connections.

I still believe, and maybe these devastations tell me it isn't going to be easy. There is so much to lose, so much to fear.

But we can keep moving forward with our dreams of renewal and change... texting our donations is good. Sometimes, it is all we CAN do...

But there are also poor among us, right here, right now. Sometimes devastation arrives in seconds-- crumbling foundations to naught. And sometimes it rumbles like a sea beneath the surface. And all we can do is hang on for dear life together, to keep it from dragging us under.