Today (Tuesday actually) I am sitting on the porch of our house in beautiful Pacifica. It is sunny and we are in between storms. Last night’s version rocked the house. But now, above me, is blue skies and whispery clouds (if there is such a word). I know another storm will arrive soon, so I am writing quickly enjoying the January warmth. So what about it? This has been a hell of a week for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. My ills and chills pale in comparison to the outright suffering taking place on that island in the Caribbean.
Can any of us turn away from the awful images coming out of that country without a twinge somewhere deep inside us that groans with their suffering? At Safeway this morning, the checker asked if I wanted to donate to the Haiti Fund. I said sure. I had just finished a shopping list of staples as well as goodies and so what’s a couple of bucks more anyway. When she asked this of me, immediately I felt small in this gigantic super market. An immediate connection with the people suffering today while I was buying Kit-Kats came crashing down on me. What more can I do?
I believe we are all connected breathing the same air in and out, day in and day out. When one suffers and I know about it, I suffer. I have a theory which I call the ‘belly-button’ theory that in spite of everything else, race, belief or political party, we are all connected by this spirit known as humanity. No one is better or worse as a person we are all equal, from the poorest of the poor to Rush Limbaugh. (Sometimes what we do or say makes it hard to reach out.) But helping out those in need does not require a second thought, I just do it.
“Don’t give money to that homeless guy. He’ll just use it to buy booze.” I hear this a lot. Well giving risks not getting in return. I don’t care if that homeless person will use the money to buy booze or not. I hope he doesn’t but the gift comes without strings. That is the nature of giving. If I feel I have to give you a gift because you gave me a gift, then what is the point of giving in the first place. The ‘quid pro quo’ trumps the giving from the heart. It’s nice to get a gift, but that act is over and above me giving. I am a connected human being, an ‘earth creature’ so my giving doesn’t come with those strings.
I don’t know whether my giving to the Haiti fund will actually go to Haiti and not to some administrative cost. I don’t care. I trust until proven wrong that it will make it to the people who need it the most. As connected people, we are bound by blood.
My brothers and my sisters in my human family need help. Who would I be, if I turned and walked away? I am reminded of the Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. (Matthew 8:5-13) Now if Jesus was a political type guy he would have turned his back on the symbol of oppression, this Roman soldier who’s empire had brutalized the Jews. But Jesus felt compassion for the man, not the uniform and the compassion that the soldier had for one of his slaves. So am I going to ask the homeless guy what is he going to do with the money I gave him? Probably not. Compassion for our brothers and sisters transcends politics.
Politics is what we do, human beings is who we are.