I have had the honor and pleasure to have talked to one of those men, have known him briefly on Twitter, and the humiliation and the despair of a good man, a man asking for nothing more than a little work, an intelligent man, a man who was highly qualified...
... who had to beg, the modern way, the global way, with a cheap cell phone and a limited amount of minutes, asking directly, with that cell phone, that Twitter feed being the bowl held out to the world.
And I couldn't help him.
In my life, I have not often felt such depth of helplessness.
No, strike that. I have never felt this helpless. I could help him in other, small ways, with information, but that's how far it went. I'm thinking about him and his wife and child now, in Haiti. And if I were a praying man, I'd pray for him. And that's what prayer is. The acknowledgment of helplessness.
It shouldn't exist. Begging.
Even though you have done nothing wrong, even though you have educated yourself, even though you are trying, forced to make the impossible choice to perhaps even sell the tools that you need in the first place to give your family one more day, because that's what it has come down to in so many parts of this world, not just in those places that you hear about, on the news, between the blitz of commercials that tell you to BUY BUY BUY...
... that tell you you can't be happy without the latest iStuff, without the latest car, that tell you that you are less of a man or a woman if you can't, that tell you that this is what society is, that this is what makes you part of it...
... one more day. Without going hungry. One more day. Being able to look your child in the eye, that child who believes in you, who thinks you come right next after god, that you are its Dad or its Mom, still believing that there's nothing Dad or Mom cannot handle...
This is what we have been reduced to. And it's no longer just in Africa. Or Haiti.
It's right next door. It's in our cities. In our small towns.
But we look away.
And we tell ourselves that these are nothing, these are the Ghosts of Christmas Past and not those of Christmas Future. As a species, as a society, we lie to ourselves, we tell ourselves that lie that we are the "Good People" while our actions tell a different story, that old story, that story by Charles Dickens. We just don't want to own up to it, we pretend, each year again, that we give, that we care, that we have done enough... by giving a cheque to charity and forget about the whole thing again...
... until next year.
In my family, we are lucky. My Mom is very ill, has been for such a long time that I can barely remember the day when I didn't look at her and see the pain and the weakness of her body crippling the woman I knew as a child. We are very lucky, because we grew up poor, and we were taught by my parents that stuff is just that... stuff.
And this Christmas, we will sit together, and we will celebrate. No God. Not Jesus. Not Stuff.
We will celebrate that we have this. One more day.
And I will maybe see my Mom smile. Because my sister and I will be there. And my nephew will be there. And we will cherish that. That we are still there. That we can still care.
I wish the woman I love could be there, too. But she's far away, and right now, there's nothing more I wish for than that she could sit with us on Christmas Eve, and that she could see my family smile, and it breaks my heart that the way this world is... doesn't allow for that. But I am grateful. I am grateful because she was here. And she could meet my Mom and my Dad. And my sister and my nephew. I am glad, because it's the end of the year. And I do not know if there's going to be another Christmas with all of my family still alive. Next year. It looks grim, this world. And it looks dark, and it is getting darker with each passing day.
I wish I could leave you with something... better.
With something... uplifting.
As the world out there drowns in darkness.
But I can tell you only this. Celebrate it.
That one more day.
If you have family who loves you, celebrate it. If you don't have to worry about where the next meal comes from, even if it's a cheap one, celebrate it. Be good. And be kind. Not because some God tells you to. Not because it makes you one of the "Good People".
Celebrate it. Because in the end, that's all we have.
That one more day.