Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can't complain

We’ve all heard that stock reply when we ask people how they are.
“Oh, I can’t complain. And no one would listen if I did.”
Then you both chuckle and move on to other small talk or, if you’re simply passing each other in the hall, that’s the extent of the “conversation.”
But as I was watching and reading about the horrific destruction in Haiti this week, I realized that, truly, I can’t complain.
At least I shouldn’t.
It’s almost impossible to process in our minds the amount of death and devastation that this earthquake has wrought.
You hear the numbers being tossed around, you see the wreckage, the bodies, the coffins, the people crying and wandering around in a daze.
But can any of us actually picture ourselves there, in these people’s shoes?
How would we react if suddenly we had nothing, if loved ones were missing or dead, if all of the basics of life were destroyed?
You have to wonder how the human spirit can survive.
Many of us feel helpless at this point, not knowing how we best can help during this catastrophe.
Many churches, no doubt, will set up their own funding channels and, later, when it’s possible, relief crews will be sent, just as they were after Hurricane Katrina.
And the Red Cross offers several venues for donations, including calling (800) REDCROSS or (800) 257-7575 (Spanish); or sending donations to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.
It’s one small way we can immediately reach out to help an effort that so badly needs every bit of aid it can get.
So the next time I catch myself complaining about having to get up early in the morning, or having to clean the house, do the laundry or shop for groceries, I hope I can stop myself.
And I don’t want to hear my self-pitying moans about this ache or that pain, or how old I am or that it’s too cold outside or that there’s cat hair everywhere in our house (hey, it’s my fault that we have a feline “zoo”).
Instead, I hope I realize how lucky I am to have a job and a home, a family — a life itself.
Because truly, when I consider the tragedy that has befallen Haiti, my complaints are far too trivial to be uttered.

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