Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mouth Wide Open

I sit in front of the tv, my mouth hanging open and my eyes filled with tears. I am in shock. Natural disasters happen. We see them every year, all over the world. But, what is currently happening in New Orleans is way beyond disaster and nowhere near natural. In a time when humans need other humans for their most basic needs, a time when people should band together and gather strength from each other, you have utter chaos instead. At a time when babies, fresh from their mothers' wombs, should be tucked snugly in a crib, and the elderly and infirm should be cared for in a sanitary environment, using the best modern medical technology available, they are crammed into a space never intended to lodge overnight guests.

Next to the newborn lies the body of the ageing grandmother whose frailty was no match for the horror it withstood in its last days. Further along sits a trembling young woman forced to endure a hurricane and a rape - A RAPE! - all in the space of 72 hours. Not only has she lost her home, but quite possibly her virginity and any sense of dignity. She is not alone. A life not fit for rabid dogs has become the daily, nightmarish reality of tens of thousands of people. Instead of the normal worries that are the aftermath of a natural disaster - homelessness, joblessness, emotional trauma - these people, though no longer fearing the wrath of the elements, are forced to live in constant fear of their fellow humans. Those predatory creatures not fit to bear the name of their own species. Those people who would rather rape, pillage and murder than extend a hand to lift a child from floodwaters or steady the shaking fingers of an elderly woman in a wheelchair.

Basically decent, terrified people, who have lost what little they ever had are being pulled down by criminals into a hell no one could ever imagine. Instead of only worrying where their next meal will come from or how they will feed their children, they must also remain alert to the threat of stray bullets and wonder if the man next to their daughter is a sexual deviant.

This kind of disaster horrifies me much more than the strong winds and rushing waters brought in by hurricane Katrina. Inclement weather, though tough to accurately predict, can at least be explained. This cannot be said of those who would take advantage of another human at the lowest, most desperate time of their life.

So, though from far away in a quiet area of Southern France, there is little I can do to help those in need of assistance, they are in my thoughts throughout the day, where they are likely to remain for a long while. We have no money to give. You've seen a bit of our financial situation in the recent posts where I've mentioned my new tightwadding ways. It can be entertaining at times, but it's really done out of necessity. These are tough times for French vintners. We certainly don't live in the lap of luxury, but we do have a roof over our heads and enough food to easily overfill our stomachs. We lack nothing that is truly important. So, I found a way to give what little money we can, anyway.

I ask you to consider you own situation, as well. Surely there is one item you would have charged to your credit card this week. Or perhaps you could deprive yourself of that daily treat you've come accustomed to and give that money to those in need of milk and diapers for their babies and food and water for themselves. Make your coffee at home this week, and skip the trip to Starbucks. Cut back on a few cigarettes to spare a few dollars at the end of the week. Drink water instead of filling yourself with sodas throughout the workday. An important lesson I've learned from my tightwadding is that there are so many unnecessary splurges we make in our lives that we can save money by eliminating. Give that money where it's really needed. At this point in the situation, any dollar you give may actually save a life. That's a low price to pay for such a valuable item.

You don't even have to be in the US to do it. The Red Cross takes credit cards online here (even foreign ones). And, leave your anti-American sentiments (if you have them) at the door. These are people. It's as simple as that. They may be from the wealthiest country in the world, but they are its poorest people. And, their country, though it has no intentions of abandoning them, was not prepared for the situation they are in.

If you truly have no money to give, but you have an extra bed, consider lodging someone who has lost everything but their own life. It can be very difficult to open your own home to a complete stranger, but if you can and are willing, you may do it here .

That is all I can think to say at the moment. No witticisms about the trials of mommyhood or life in rural France today. They lack significance when compared to the trials of others across the Atlantic.