The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful then a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
I feel almost powerless to help. Money, alone, seems entirely inadequate, but even if I rushed to the scene of the devastation, I do not have the skills nor the strength nor the stamina to do anything of use. My money seems like a weak, feeble, utterly ineffective response to an enormous need. Really, what effect can one person’s frail monetary contributions have in response to something as overwhelming as the natural disasters that befell so many communities in recent days? I keep telling myself that it’s not just my support that will help; it’s the collective support of thousands of people like me who give what they can to organizations that are able to help, where individuals, alone, are simply impotent. The collective efforts of governments, along with individuals who care and can afford to make donations, must be marshalled to respond to the calamity.
Mayfield, Kentucky was among the hardest-hit locales, but the recent spate of tornadoes spanned beyond Kentucky. They devastated areas of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, and Illinois, as well. Those monstrous storms left scars that will never heal. The number of deaths attributed to the storms varies between 70 and well over 100; only after the enormous mountains of debris left by the furious winds are uncovered will a more precise number be known. I cannot fathom the fear, the emptiness, and the outright desperation of people whose homes are gone and who may have lost to the catastrophe members of their families or their friends. The mountains of debris shown in photos and videos from the scenes of destruction are almost unimaginable. People have, literally, nothing left. Everything they owned is gone. And many of them no longer can depend on the comfort and safety afforded by loved ones; because their loved ones were casualties of the unprecedented weather.
The magnitude of the cataclysmic events of December 10-11 will not be fully understood for years. The absence of loved ones—killed by the storms—at graduations, weddings, and even funerals will cause pain for generations. Memories of old family photographs destroyed by rain and wind will remain for years, but those images will diminish with fading memories. Trees that survived all the Nature could throw at them for dozens and dozens and dozens of years did not survive that awful night; comfort provided by sprawling shade trees may never come again.
Towns will be rebuilt. Houses will be constructed and jobs lost when the buildings that hosted them were destroyed will be re-created. Yet there will be scars of unimaginable size and scope. We cannot undo the damage that was done. But, to the extent we can afford to do it, we should offer aid to help communities and individuals and families rebuild their lives. Some days, though, it seems the number of people and situations and circumstances that cry out for our help are just overwhelming—we may be tempted to just throw up our hands and say “it’s too much!” But I have decided that’s a defeatist attitude. You just do what you can. Perhaps it’s at random. Perhaps it’s making contributions to organizations that, for whatever reason, tug at your heartstrings. Perhaps it’s an event that means something personally to you. Whatever it is, every contribution does, to some degree, help minimize or overcome the pain. When the whole world comes to the aid of someone in need, scars heal. They become beautiful.
The horrors of the recent tornadoes got to me. I needed something to counter the pain and depression and feelings of hopelessness that always follow when I consider the almost unimaginable scope of natural disasters. And I found that something. On Facebook, of all places. I stumbled upon a group called the Jacques Pepin Fan Club. Its “About” section says: “Celebrating the best of Jacques Pepin’s continuing contributions to the culinary world.”
What struck me, as I skimmed through messages on the Jacques Pepin Fan Club site was the fact that every post (people showing off what they just made, often using “what’s available”) had a relatively small number of comments (often, just 10-20) but every comment was positive, complimentary, and uplifting. These people just enjoy food and they like to encourage others to do the same.
I was impressed with images of sockeye salmon with rainbow chard, sea scallops with cannellini beans and roasted peppers, shrimp with Italian sausage and Parmigiano-Reggiano polenta, and chicken nasi biryani.
I’m easily amused. And feeling much better about the world.
While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.
~ Chinua Achebe ~
Today, finally, we should be able to get the keys to our new house and have a look around. We won’t be moving in for a while yet (cleaning and painting, etc., first), but we’re ready to get a closer look to see how (or whether) our furniture will fit.
Selling something to a friend is terribly difficult for me. Often, I’ll happily just give an items away rather than sell it because exchanging money seems to me to potentially lessen the bonds of the relationship. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to simply give away something of significant monetary value. Should I discount the price? Should I ignore the monetary value and just give the item away? Should I treat the transaction without emotion and attempt to separate the friendship bond from the economic imperative? I wonder whether I am alone in this dilemma?