Tue 6 Jan 2009
tonight, before bed, Dave was reading The Lorax to Oscar. it’s a Suess i missed out on as a kid, so i only heard it for the first time this past year. it’s a thinly veiled anti-industrialist Book of Revelations or An Inconvenient Truth for the younger set…or more likely, really, for their parents. in it the Lorax, who “speaks for the trees”, is the unheeded prophet of a grim future that the narrator ultimately brings upon himself.
as Dave launched into the story, i felt my ears cringe, fold over at the edges, shut themselves off. i knew what was coming, and tonight, i didn’t want to go along for the ride of guilt and broken-heartedness and complicity. i didn’t want to hear – i was busy fiddling vapidly with my own personal Thneeds. like most of us, i am all for righteous living so long as i don’t have to get uncomfortable. but sitting there half-listening, half-trying to turn my ears away from the sad story the tale weaves, i realized that the Lorax sounds awfully familiar.
Mad and Jen, with Suzanne, and for a while, Hel, have thrown their heart and soul, in stereo, into The Just Posts for two full years now. they’ve spoken for the trees, the seas, the hungry, the homeless, the gay. they’ve collected our voices, and helped us use the blogosphere to spread information and ideas about what we think might make a better world. i’ve participated, though less frequently of late. i’ve heard the call for contributions and glanced at my to-do list and thought, yeh, i’ll get to that. and then the tenth of the month has rolled around, and around again, without my lifting a finger, and my ears have closed off a little, because i am all for social justice so long as i don’t have to get uncomfortable. or say, make an effort.
i’ve been treating them rather like the Lorax. sigh.
and now, with life and parenting and moves to the jungle and maybe a little weariness with the blogging world and with the whole Lorax role, the women who started the fine thing that is The Just Posts are retiring. and i get it, and i am sad at the same time, because i’ve learned a lot from the roundtables. things about greening the environment and about the American health care system and mental illness and what a joke i am when it comes to committing to DO anything. they inspired me to get off my ass and volunteer at my local soup kitchen, only i got put on, uh, bedrest. then i got inspired to start a local cloth diaper exchange, which has kinda flopped thus far and possibly miscarried, but hey…if anyone out there in the Charlottetown area wants to work with me or just wants some diapers, super cheap, gimme a shout, i’m swimming in prefolds. i have most recently been inspired to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in a clerical capacity…easiest with a colicky baby, i figure….but they, uh, haven’t called yet. nonetheless, i remain inspired. because knowing that people are out there trying matters to me, and is the thing about the Just Posts that has called me back month after month, helped me unstopper the shame and inertia that builds up like earwax and deafens most of us to the disconnect between our lives and our beliefs.
as a parting gift, the Just Post hosts have asked that we out there who care about this baby they’ve grown and nurtured for the past twenty-four months commit to putting our money where our mouths have been, and write about a cause we believe in and support financially.
i figured this at least i could do without fucking up.
it’s Old Christmas today, Epiphany. in the internal calendar of my mind, set back in a childhood far more canonically observant than the adult moi can even remember, i haven’t completely missed sending appropriately and timely holiday wishes/messages/cards so long as said missives go out by epiphany. today i wrote to my friend Susie.
happy new year, read my (very creative, non?) message. Pakistan, eh, Suse?
on December 28th, Susie left for northern Pakistan for her fourth tour with Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders). i copied a letter she’d written from her second tour, to Chad, the fall before last. before that, it was Darfur. since then, a cholera camp in Congo. this time, Pakistan. i’m hoping she’ll have internet, as otherwise my holiday message won’t reach her ’til May. there’s no pretending that’s on time.
on her way to the airport, she sent this note. “We are setting up a program in an area that MSF hasn’t been before, and because of all the cultural/political intricacies in the area the going is slow. There is no acute emergency like cholera, and there are no IDP’s/refugees in this area, but the people have very poor access to health care. Especially the women, and this will hopefully be an area we can improve. Because of the divide between men and women, especially marked in these more remote tribal areas, it is hard to even get an good idea of the health needs of the female population – as a female doctor I should have more access then the men and so hopefully be able to help a bit. It is also an area that was hit by the 2005 earthquake and that has affected access to healthcare. There are areas of the coutry that probably have a greater need for help but they are a little too unsafe at the moment, so we will start out in Darband and see how it goes. One of our goals is to start up a Cutaneous Leishmaniasis program, since there seems to be an outbreak in the mountain villages. (for the non-meds, that is a skin infection caused by a parasite and spread by sandflies. It is not fatal but can leave a lot of scarring and has a significant social stigma).”
for a year, when Suse first went to Darfur, Dave and i gave monthly to MSF. since then our charitable donations have been focused more on the local children’s hospital where Finn was born and died, and where i was followed closely through my pregnancies with Oscar and Josephine. this, and cancer and the War Amps and whatever local groups happen to get to my door first have been my particular personal commitments. but this year there will be no more babies. and this year, i think it’s time for us to look a little further afield again in our giving, to commit again to MSF, and maybe…in appreciation for this luxury of being able to feed and raise these two beautiful kids in our house, sponsoring a child too. i’ve looked into World Vision in the past, and Foster Parents’ Plan. if anyone has any caveats or suggestions about groups who coordinate child sponsorships, please make free with them in the comments.
Happy Old Christmas, Just Posts. thank you for your courage, for speaking and inspiring even when some of us tried to close our ears.