Tuesday, January 19, 2010

where were we before the quake?


Like the rest of the world I've watched in horror as the situation in Haiti continues to unfold. Cities that have been completely flattened, the desperate need of food and water, bodies being piled into mass graves, pulling victims out of the rubble. It's terrifying, and I've come to appreciate more and more the luxuries I take for granted.

But at the same time I can't help but wonder - where were we before the earthquake hit?

Did you know that in Haiti only 40% of the children have access to basic health care? Half of the deaths are contributed to AIDS/HIV. The average Haitian makes $2 a day, making Haiti one of the poorest countries in the Americas. 80% fall below the poverty line. The literacy rate is about 65%.

It is a tragedy that an earthquake of this magnitude hit such a poor country at this time, but they needed help before this. I don't have much room to talk, seeing as I haven't given countries like Haiti a second thought since I took Geography my Freshman year here at BYU. But it makes me wonder why we need disaster to reach out to countries in need. The United States has been giving aid to Haiti (30% of Haiti's national budget comes from foreign aid), but how many people knew that? What more could we do if we realized how much we have, how much we can give?

Basically, I just want to remind everyone (and myself included) that there are so many countries and peoples that are in desperate need of help with or without natural disasters. Maybe if we paid more attention to the world around us we would be motivated to contribute to humanitarian efforts, or at least be more thankful for what we have.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

the faces stay the same

The eight of us were sitting in Digger’s Diner early Monday morning, ordering the same thing we’ve been ordering for years. At first glance you’d never be able to tell that we all spend 90% of the year away from each other, in different states with different friends. We laughed at the same jokes we told in high school, told the same stories and asked the same questions. From the outside, you’d never know.

I drove home that morning by myself. It was still early and the streets were quiet. I drove past Starbucks and the high school, past the swimming pool and the park. Everything was exactly the same as it always has been, and yet it felt so different – like I didn’t belong anymore. It felt like we were just going through the motions. We only had breakfast together because we had to, not because we really wanted to. Sure we were sitting at the same table laughing at the same things, but it was obvious that our minds were somewhere else. As I turned off the main road towards my house, it hit me: we were visitors in the city that once was ours.

Growing up is inevitable. Leaving home is just part of life. For a while we were able to come back in December and August and recreate the memories, postpone the feeling of intrusion, draw out the friendships we relied on for so many years. But I think we’re past that point now. As our little group of friends scatters across the globe we only have the memories, ones that now seem haunt us as we drive the streets we once knew.

As we continue to grow older and grow apart, as we graduate from college and move across the country, as we get married and start families of our own, we’ll always have the memories of each other. But I’m starting to realize that things cannot be the way they once were, and growing apart doesn’t mean caring less. We just have different lives now. It’s weird and it’s hard and dealing with this realization over the past week has been tough, but it’s part of life, there’s no way to stop it.

We’ll keep coming back home. We’ll continue to visit the places we used to frequent as kids, we’ll still laugh at the memories and keep each other updated on our new lives. But Concord belongs to a new generation. It’s time for us to go.