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In my first column of 2010, I suggested we do what our government cannot and focus on some optimism, my exact words . . . 'the elected leaders don't lead and solve problems, but we the people do!' I was delighted at the responses that were all in agreement. I vowed then to keep us positive and accentuate 'we the people' for the new year about to begin. I will continue to discuss pertinent issues, but will do it with the 'what can we do about this mess' attitude.

Along with everyone else, I shuddered as the tragic news began filling the airwaves of the horror in Haiti last Tuesday. We still have no idea on how many lives were taken by the trembling of the earth. Could this cloud possibly have a silver lining? I've watched with interest the last week.

It appears to be so. Once again, the American people, the common folk out here on Main Street have united. Millions of dollars have already been donated to the Red Cross by texting a number on a cell phone. Daily, we see more volunteers embarking on the arduous journey into the destroyed city of Port Au Prince. We see more and more doctors and medical personnel giving of their services. Organizations and corporations are stepping up. Celebrities from all fields are manning various phone lines. Professional sports organizations are donating millions. Firefighters from all over the country are helping with the rescues and amazingly they are still finding people alive. TV Talk Show hosts are on the job raising funds from their viewers and the viewers are donating in record numbers.

The Obama Administration is on the job and handling the situation as best as complicated logistics will allow. Former president, George W. Bush returned to the White House for the first time to get involved with Former President, Bill Clinton as his father did following the Tsunami. Political rivals are partnering up for fund raising. Only a few mean-spirited people continue to insist on using this travesty to advance their own political and personal agendas. We have come to expect that from those people.

What's inspiring, too, is that it appears to be a Global response. It's totally amazing to me that people don't unite to this degree more often on things of less magnitude once the power of unification is shown, but the silver lining on this cloud is expanding. Hopefully, the satisfaction of helping others will catch on all over the world. Even those without money, education, celebrity or health can, and are, giving of time and heart and are warmed by the feeling that what they do matters.

Haiti, in my lifetime, has always been notoriously poor, uneducated, and at the mercy of a dysfunctional, if not corrupt, government. Now they face total decimation of their homeland. The loss of life, though paramount, is all they've truly lost. They were without all other things we take for granted before the earthquake last Tuesday. They hadn't recovered from the hurricanes and mudslides from last year, or the season before that, or that! Decent housing, education, healthcare, or opportunities have never been available to Haitians. If people gain honor from giving life for country, the dear souls that lost their life last week are truly fallen warriors in a war against poverty, or a war with a few people in control not caring about many people, even within a given society or culture.

Now, new infrastructure and housing will have to be built. Almost three million people can't live on the street or in tents for long. Disease would run rampant. The people will be motivated to totally build a new life with new direction. Any misplaced loyalties to a government will be rethought as rulers have stood by and done nothing or been killed themselves.  

With all this help from 'we the people', we need keep one thing in mind. The people of Haiti have to be part of the process, not just the recipients of aid. Jobs should become plentiful as roads and housing are built. They should be given to the Haitians, not private contractors with profit opportunity their only goal such as was done in Iraq.  

The Haitians should be the workers and the buyers of supplies becoming part of the Global economy. They can hire qualified people to work with them, teach them business management once on their feet and survival issues behind them. These are just a couple of examples in really helping people. These are part of basic human rights and freedoms. I always think of the old axiom, "If a man is hungry, I can give him a fish, or I can give him a pole and teach him how to catch his own." I'm not sure who said that first, but the message is profound. This is our first example of a huge cloud with a small silver lining in 2010. I'll be watching to see how it moves forward. Will the skies begin to turn sunny, or will the clouds roll in again over Haiti?

I do appreciate all your comments and suggestions even if I don't reply each time; I read them. How we can apply these principles to our own nation? What can we do on the community level to illustrate the power of people united? Or even around our supper table talking with our kids? Is it something as small as taking part in a local volunteer program for an hour a week? There is so much need, it's easy to find something you actually enjoy doing. What is going on in your community?

Susan Haley, Author/Editor/Columnist

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Jan 19, 2010
    • It’s heartbreaking to watch Haitians trying to piece their lives together.  

      My hat is off to all the people who are making a difference by being there and saving the lives of the people that have been oppressed for so long and now hit with such a disaster.

      God Bless America for always reaching out to help.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jan 19, 2010
    • Once again very thought provoking. I watch the news each day and discover more horrors of what the Haitians are going through. It’s very sad.

      I have heard from several people “how can we help them when we are in financial distress?” Well how can’t we help? has been my question.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Jan 19, 2010
    • Hooray! for you, Vikki. I, too, have pondered this issue watching the films from over there. Close to me, actually, here in south Florida. I can understand both mindsets to a degree, as well. Like all of you, I worry when the bills overshadow the income. To us, that IS financial distress. Just because I’ve worked hard and happen to be a published author/editor doesn’t mean I have lots of money. I punched the ol’ clock on the day job for 50 years! Usually, authors are part of the ‘starving artist’ community! :) It’s amazing how many folks don’t comprehend that either.

      I’ve determined we in America live in somewhat of cultural bubble of our own. We can’t even comprehend true poverty. There are no TRUE poor people in this country. Even the poorest run around with cellphones and ipods in their ear and have some access to education even with our problems.

      I agree with you. How can any caring human being NOT want to do something for fellow humankind for who just a simple morsel of food a day or an income of $30 dollar a month with no decent shelter or ever seeing the inside of school room is the norm? My heart almost broke last night when I saw a clip of a volunteer handing a little kid about five a bottle of water and the child looked up and said “thank you, ma‘am“. The kid was smiling! I literally cried. Even with a life of squaler and little hope or opportunity, that little kid knew to say ‘thank you’ for a simple drink of water! By all means, how can we NOT help and still sleep at night under a roof and a can of soup in the cupboard!?

      You are a special person, Vikki. Thank you. I hope I meet you someday.


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Feb 4, 2010
    • It really irked me when I heard people angry with the president for giving Haiti some of their tax dollars! It made me sick to my stomach to hear their anger over something that shouldn’t even be questioned.  

      It made so happy to see the outpouring of help from all classes of people and all countries of the world. Really, it does take a dissaster to create a common thread of decency in the human race. I wonder why that is?

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