I look at these faces. Faces of people I have never known in a land that I have never seen and my heart screams with empathy. These are the survivors – the ones who made it – and in my heart so overwhelmed with the news and the reality of Mother Nature gone wild – I wonder how impossible surviving must be.
I see the faces of children scarred and ravaged by the sounds and memories of something more horrific than I can possibly imagine. Families hanging onto each other, tugging on shirts and squeezing hands as the rain pours down on them ever more. Houses torn and blown into dust, ships shored and rusted with anchors swinging free like roped tires on trees. Islands no longer majestic and beaches no longer welcoming now littered with unidentifiable remnants of so many lives once lived. The corner store is an empty lot, the church a graveyard and the kitchen where families gathered to celebrate simple days now nothing but a memory.
Lines of faces trailing in muddy paths leading to nowhere. Cargo planes from distant shores cannot land fast enough – cannot carry food enough – cannot erase the smell of death and unparalleled anguish and loss. I see soggy uniforms worn by soldiers honoring their duty while holding strong to protect the victims who have no where else to turn. How do you keep order and protect and serve when you have no home to watch over, no structure to guide you and no boundaries defined? How do you keep the faith? How do you hold on to hope when children are hungry and babies are born and the only world you have ever known no longer exists?
The human spirit is stripped to the core in the havoc that remains in the Philippines today. My spirit struggles with the helplessness and futility of all I cannot do. We collect cases of food and boxes of clothes and in our land of extravagance and reckless values we attempt to lend a hand to a humbled country half a world away. A country where hope now lies in a 5 pound bag of rice and a gallon of clean water.
I see the faces – the perfect brown innocent faces of the children who cannot fully understand the magnitude of what they have endured….and the tears fill my eyes again. Empathy my friends – the need to feel and care for one another is a basic and much neglected human trait. It should not take a typhoon to shake it loose and pull it to the surface – we must surround ourselves in it and with it and make our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters better each and every day.
Do not look away. Do not change the channel. It is all around us and we need to face the ugly truth of all that is possible in this journey we call life. Behold the helpless child and help her. Walk towards the struggle of the elderly and hold out your hand to support him. Open the door to the poor and needy if only to make their struggle a little less painful. Every single positive action we take builds the foundation of a stronger and more compassionate world – and we need to remind ourselves to take those actions.
The images of an unimaginable disaster in a world far away from my own world flash across my computer and somehow change my life. In this world of quick fixes and instant downloads – I pray those images not change my life only for a moment – but that they change my life for a lifetime.
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About K. Guzman
Kathy grew up all over the US - lots of east coast time. She is a surfer girl with an unabridged curiosity. A woman whose mid life awakening continues to bring her to the place she was meant to be. Her degree in Journalism/Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida is being yanked from the archives and put to good use. Her two kids are grown and rock stars in this wild world – her Harley is ready for some serious summer miles – and her heart remains open to life, women and the possibilities each day brings.