Disaster hits. Only then do we know the meaning of the word. Next, where's the shovel...
Help Japan, Stand Tall, and Show You're American
This evening's news reports continue with expanding media footage of earthquake and tsunami destruction, and the dead and injured tolls increase almost a week after the fact. Japanese men, women, and children search to become families once more, make life over, anew.
Twenty-four hour news stations will continue to broadcast the widespread destruction, until--I'm concerned--that the story becomes just another bit of noise we can block out. We, as humanitarians, don't intend for things like that to happen. We want to help out when there's a problem, but this isn't some late light telephone from a kid who needs help.
There's no grumbling about getting out of bed, getting dressed, getting in the car and fetching a son or daughter who has been in an auto mishap or stranded at some other unanticipated away from home GPS location. Until mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters cross that point-- of crossing "the line" too many times --parents help kids--especially those who appreciate the effort and learn from it. Family usually helps family, right?
Almost sounds like I'm leading into some kind of sermonesque helping thy brother segment . . . which is another essay for another day. I prefer essays to blogging, actually. That just the kind of writer I am. It takes all kinds to make the world go round and work. Well, now, that sounds like an amplified kindergarten lesson. As a former teacher of 12 years who taught from grade 6 to grade 11 over the years, both history and English, education retired from me more than I retired from it. The analogies come easily. I read and I write.
I wasn't alive in 1945, nobody has asked me recently, but as a former history teacher I do get uncomfortable discussing facts detailing the Japanese-American Internment Camps during World War II (George Carlin said to "Google it"), as well as what happened to the people and the land after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hydrogen-bomb devastated, as never before in history. (Carlin told me they all took up buidling electronics and developing technology. He has a routine if he's watching; my opinion).
I saw a t-shirt today with Japanese proverbs. Quite a prompt for a philosophical writer. But there was a t-shirt. Beneath white blooms of a tree read, " You fall down seven times, you get up eight times." What a culture indeed!
Depending on where in the world you're reading this post from, Japan could be on the other side of the world. Transportation of goods world-wide can be as fast as flight speed, which is far slower than our Internet paced mindful world can actually conceive, can it?
I know e-Bay can ship goods from China and Japan to delivery at my front door in less than two weeks, under usual circumstances. I've suddenly realized that I should check my e-Bay account to determine exactly where in Japan my last three items were, specifically, to be shipped from. If e-Bay doesn't know, Pay Pal probably will. I never ceased to be amazed at the progressive, continual, technological warp speed we have made in the lifetime of Baby Boom Generation types. We are, we have become in my lifetime, a worldwide world. We do act as a unit.
I lived through several hurricanes growing up along the Coastal Bend of Texas. The first I experienced at age 5. Afterwards. we still had our home standing, and we were safe, but I heard the howl of winds that can still frighten me to chills this day. There are always unbelievable stories: if one were to believe what I read in the newspaper at that time, a man had left his large dog outdoors when the winds began blowing, thinking the dog would get under the house on the east side where he always sheltered from storms. The dog's owner was concerned, and checked for his dog with no luck during the calm eye of the storm during the early morning hours of darkness.
Daylight arrived as the final winds blew on off to the northwest beyond our concern, and the man came out in the wreckage of blown and wind-shredded pieces of life left on his property that day. He called for the dog by name, he searched among scattered rubble, and piles of items blown from far away. There was no dog to be found.
However, as the new story reported, there instead was a horse where the dog had been. Great story, but I don't believe everything I hear. There's fact and there's fiction, and I don't guess it was totally impossible. Strange things happen in all sorts of disasters. Beyond the discomfort, pain, and need, strong people can grown stronger with a little help from us all, regardless of age.
That big one that blew through when I was 17, Hurricane Celia, leveled our nearby shopping centers, in addition to the backyard wooden fence, some of the roof, all the trees, and the electricity and phone service. My Mom had the only gas stove in the block, and she cooked food for neighbors for days. My one good thing I got out of it, besides my life and the experience, was a Paul McCartney's "Bowl of Cherries" album, although the cover had water damage it played fine. Woolco had a sale to get rid of what was still sellable. What may go up on auction from Japan in the next few months just boggles my mind. Life and business must go on. Nevertheless, it's tough to build anything back from devastation and its flotsum and jetsum.
When roads became clear enough to drive after one of our hurricanes, I remember getting in the 1963 Dodge push button gear sedan with Mom and Daddy in the front seat, and me checking out everything I could see from my back seat view. Nothing was recognizable. Nothing was the same. It was just gone. We traveled the highways along the Matagorda Island passes, and driving towards Port Aransas and Port Arthur Texas, which were nearer larger bodies of water than where my house was safely (?) made of brick and luckily located seven blocks from the bay front in Corpus Christi.
On the drive I saw seaweed hanging from what I'd always considered the "biggest tree ever" tall telephone polls on the flat land and sand near the bay. South Texas is flatter than a pancake for lots of miles in the south. I knew then what is meant by a storm surge. The waves and the water kept coming and coming. A six foot tall person, if he could have been standing there would have been standing with about 20 feet of water over his head. Being a tall child, this really stuck me. I knew the beach water got taller than the tallest structures for miles around. The vision, and drama stays with me. The destruction of nature cannot be fully explained unless you have experienced it yourself.
The first tsunami washing across Asian waters shook us to our attention regarding the power of God and nature (when more than property insurance claims are concerned), followed too soon by the earthquake destruction in "third world", economically challenged Haiti, and now the powers of nature unleash a third major blow . . . in recent recollection--this certainly makes me hope that the old saying about events occurring in threes is right. Earth and her people have had quite enough for a few decades or so, 'eh?
I haven't been an on sight victim of a tsunami or a volcano, or whirling and straight line winds that happen in a nearby tornado alley every spring. Lots of people are having lots of problems, and I can't help them all. I'd fix them if I could, but it doesn't work like that. I couldn't help with my shovel if I could find it because I've got a bad back. Nobody can do it all. I'd like to appeal for you, my dear reader, to do just a little bit because it all adds up to relief.
I do try to help with the little donations I can afford, when I can afford. We all know how tough times are economically at home, and we must take care of ourselves first. That's the self-preservation were learn as adults, eventually, hopefully. It must be a primary consideration of the living.
However, I hope if you carry love in your heart for mankind, you will donate to an organization--SOMEWHERE-- with proper credentials, so that we all around the world can show ourselves still willing to help others in need as much as we can, and as quickly as we can.
I grew up recognizing the voice of President John F. Kennedy saying, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"...and the world.
I kinda tried that some. It was such a chore filling out that Peace Corp application that I'm sure that wasn't my calling. Thirteen years in a public school classroom was the extend of my extended effort to contribute to mankind. I hope I'm not being pretentious, or contentious, to remind you how those words could make us feel, and dream, and become...in some cases. I do hope that replay I heard today was part of somebody's commerical. It's worth re-living.
If you require a receipt for a money donation, you're a smart cookie!
In reading through my e-mails today, I found something I consider even better:
The link will tell the story. . please read, and share with others.
You may already be aware of the promotional and fun items for browsing and buying at the cafepress web site, and even having the creative and artistic ability for initiating your own logos and artistry t-shirts and other gadgets assisted by their expertise. They've been around several years and seem to have a good reputation, as far as I know.
The first items offered in this relief t-shirt sale are nice, $15, AMERICAN MADE,
and do please read the fine print about what percentage of funds the American Red Cross will receive from this cafepress associated project
I clicked a few pages beyond to find magnets, stickers, items for less than $5, other styles, logos, colors, and even including an instant impression shirt showing the island of Japan with a band-aid over it, and versions of Hope style shirts, also in beautiful Japanese script print. I finally had to make myself stop looking at the store's many offerings, and write this article--before I could narrow down my own particular favorite "special donation".
You'll notice some items have already been reduced. As a former history teacher, it's a date in history that will be forgotten after the event--unless you choose the version with a date. That's one t-shirt option--lots of options.
I feel life http://www.CafePress.com has created an enormous number of offering for t-shirt collectors of special t-shirts with emotional attachments, and humanitarians who don't mind a pat on the back for their efforts. If you investigate, you may feel the same way.
I try to be good to the American Red Cross when I can. I hope my words may lead you to click beyond and look at what you can receive in exchange for your donation of urgently needed money to be provided for Red Cross relief for Japan.
Please feel free to share my links and this article because it was written with the intent of providing an avenue of "Relief for Japan and her people and culture"--and most especially for t-shirt lovers. Japan deserves all we can do individually, for all of them individually. This is just one effort.
All honest humanitarian efforts will undoubtedly be due karma. Feel free to reprint, copy, and distribute. Thank you for considering us all . . . .
Note: Though my goal in this op-ed is to get you to click over to
browse until you find whatever suits your fancy, and complete a quick Internet purchase, with much of the price going towards the expenses of efforts by the American Red Cross.
Secondarily, as a writer, I consider everything I write editable. I'm open to feedback on this article. I feel like this is way too long. There may be too much of "me memories" that didn't make the point, or draw the image I intended. Or maybe I started to make a point and didn't. I'm asking for help to make my plea for aid better if you care to. I'm hungry for feedback.
Thank you for reading to the very last line.
Happy St. Patrick's Day
May the shamrocks of health and blessings find you every day and night.