Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helplessness


The tragic and devastating news from Haiti has been somewhere in my consciousness since I heard about it. Pictures of the people sitting by, making do with close to zero by the side of the buildings that once were, tug at me relentlessly. What do we do when we hear of such devastation? How do we help? Yes, we can send a check somewhere to some humanitarian organization to help out. What else? My dear friend whom I’ve met through the blogosphere, Gabi has just written a post on a similar topic that has to do with what can we do in the midst of absurdity and injustice. After reading hers and feeling my helplessness I wonder about this place we are all sitting in. What might come from helplessness?

The first thing I notice when I feel utterly helpless, like when I did right after my father passed away is that if I stop thinking, rationalizing, and justifying I feel peace. And the only way I can do that is by not thinking. Yes, when you feel helpless, just go with it, do not analyze it, do not try to fix it. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. Now, you might say, great, I am glad that you know how to feel peace in the midst of such devastation. But how is that going to help the world?

I am not an expert at what the world needs, but I have a hunch at what the world doesn’t need. The world doesn’t need more drama, blame, or righteousness. When we can’t stop ourselves from listening to the news and getting caught up in the drama of the how and how many and the tragic human stories, we are no different from the rubber-neckers at the sight of a car accident on the road. We perpetuate the story, we feed into the tragedy and its energy, we talk about it and analyze it and justify that such a thing would never happen here, because we build our buildings according to code, etc. to make ourselves feel more safe. And all of this usually happens within seconds of feeling helpless. It is as if we want to feel something, anything other than helplessness. So, we push through, deny, and avoid it. How could this benefit the planet?

What I have learned is that the more we connect with the sadness, the more we start thinking, rationalizing, and justifying or worse, get angry. What would happen if we just felt the helplessness and stayed with it without trying to mentally understand it?

I am reminded of a scene at a memorial service when you are the grieving family and people are passing through the line to wish you their respects. There are those who have something to say, to make you feel better, some justification, i.e., he/she lived a full life. There are those who offer help and prayers. There are those who just say I am sorry and move on. There are those who just hug you and look into your eyes without any hurry to walk away. And there are those who will try to distract you by talking about anything but what they are there for.

Today, I’d like to think about this tragedy in the same vein as the memorial analogy. How do I want to wish my respects to the people of the country who have lost everything? What if anything do I want to contribute? What might benefit the people the most? The answers and even just the pondering of my answers to these questions will keep me from becoming part of the problem.
Wishing you all peace, especially if you are feeling helpless.

10 comments:

me, manifestor said...

lovely post!

Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Sherry,

The Haiti tragedy is very sad indeed, but it is one of those things we can’t prevent or control. This are the times that call for solidarity, for unification, love and a helping hand to anyone in need. "God gave us the strength to overcome the things we can’t control".
This tragedy was caused by nature and we can only deal with the aftermath of it, but what about all those tragedies that are constantly caused by human actions? Those are the ones we can prevent by taking actions before it is too late.
The world could have helped to ease Haiti poverty levels before this tragedy actually happened, but sadly we only react when we are hit by reality.
Today, now, exactly at this moment we can do something to prevent many tragedies that are taking place just now. Why we do need to wait until the disaster takes place so we can then deal with the aftermath?
The post I posted on my blog last Wednesday: “Pondering about” –touches some of the tragedies taking place right now, tragedies that we can attempt to resolve before we end crying over spilled milk…

loveNligth to all the people in Haiti and all the ones in need.

Gabi

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Dear Me, Manifestor,

Thanks and I hope you come back!

Peace,
Sherry

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Dear Gabi,

I hear your frustration. As long as there is free will/free choice, people will do what they do. For myself, I have learned that true compassion is in accepting that everyone has their own path as tragic as it may seem to me. If I focus my energy on how I can be in this situation, or how "I can be the change I want to see", then I have not become part of the problem. I have not become part of duality and that is all I can do in addition to bringing awareness to a situation.

Thank you,
Sherry

Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Sherry,

I totally agree with, you we must be the change we would like to see. That’s why I’m pondering about what you and I can do.
I’m not frustrated, I’m just putting across my observations, I’m not judging others, what I’m attempting to do is to show the other side of the coin.

I do believe we do not need to wait till something as sad as this tragedy happens to remember that people are suffering and in need. Haiti has been suffering for so many years – 80% of the population live in extreme poverty, 80 out of 1000 new born children die, life expectancy is 49 years old, 70% of the population are analphabet, water and electricity are luxuries no many can reach. 4% of the population controls 64% of the country economy…

I do have hope that things will change for good, I do know things are already changing.

loveNlight to you my dear friend
Gabi

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Yes my dear friend! I agree, let's not wait until the next tragedy to open our eyes and see what's really going on in the world.

Blessings,
Sherry

Anonymous said...

Dear Sherry

I live in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island with our neighbor Haiti. I felt the earthquake in 5 MAG, this makes me dizzy I almost lost consciousness. Then I saw the news on CNN International Tsunami Warning and felt very afraid.

I sent food and water through the distribution center, above all I prayed a lot for people who are devastated and lost everything.

Yet newspapers continue to publish in front of hundreds of cadavers and those who have not yet been able to draw from the buildings. There are currently two major problems with sending resources to Haiti, logistics and infrastructure, such as the airport of Puerto Principe is no control tower and support aircraft are landing motions without assistance, it is very difficult The airspace is filled, some aircraft are landing at the airport in Santo Domingo, my city.

In my country, the clinics are occupied by those injured and orthopedic doctor and others are in Haiti to provide assistance.

We are grabbing everything they can to help our Haitian brothers, is a matter of being patient and pray that God gives them peace and comfort to these survivors.

A nonprofit organization, which formed part of a roof for my country, which will build 100 homes emerging in the early weeks: www.untechoparamipais.org.

During these days has been much the drama of the situation, but in reality has been very devastating, and the only positive thing I see the situation is that powerful countries will now be more aware that they have to help our neighboring country Haiti, not only with water, medicines and food, they have take a short and long term plan to create mechanisms to make this country self-sufficient and achieve development.

Social class in Haiti is divided into two: the upper class (wealthy families are accumulating all the richness)15% and the poor class (they are family living in extreme poverty) 85%. This situation has been established since the colonization and continued until independence (I mention that it was the first country to independence from America in the Spanish colony).

I think today there is still racism in the international community, since they have provided no real support to the Haitian and have been sent only with the aid and supplies that do not really help to become independent so that develop as a nation.

Thanks for writing about your feelings through your blog, which I read every week.

Greetings,

M. Isabel

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Thank you Maria for sharing your experience and providing vital information. It's good to know of organizations that do good. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes tragedy like this to bring us all together. I hope that the international community puts their politics and racism aside and not just for this cause for this moment, but for always.
Thank you for your support.

Love,
Sherry

Kim said...

Hello, I found you from Gabriela's blog (I always wonder how we find each other).

I think you make a poignant observation about allowing/admitting the helplessness exists.

Once we allow that genuine admission, we can then focus on that which we CAN do. With the bottleneck and backlog, for Haiti, it may not be much more than send money for most of us. However, there are ample opportunities in every walk to make a difference. I believe that good energy fills the world in a positive way, inspiring others.

Like a cosmic game of telephone, we send one good message/deed out into the world, and maybe the next person who hears it passes along a slightly different message, but a good one nonetheless.

It ALL makes a difference. I love the expression, be the change you wish to see. Thank you to Gabriela and you Sherry for passing it on.

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Dear Kim,

Thank you for your comment. Also, seeing the reporters being so moved and touched by the tragedy, bringing those feelings back home will shift consciousness. Even if it might be for a short time, any reminder of our human connections to each other is valuable.

Thanks again,
Sherry