Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

31 August 2011

You, Me, and Junot Diaz

Just in case you're wondering where the heck
I've been, 
my response is:
when a woman is my age, she should be allowed some lapses --
I get lost--
in thought,
in dreams,
in space,
where-ever --
and then the rest is silence.

This is not to say my heart isn't beating.

I hope yours is, too.


Well, tonight I read an article that made my heart skip a beat,
in the UTNE Reader.

Now, seriously, folks, 
I haven't looked at an UTNE Reader
in a couple of decades,
but there it was, and I started reading --
and found this article:

In this provocative article, Diaz contemplates how the catastrophe in Haiti
embodies Apocalypse,
indeed, it is Apocalypse
for the people of Haiti.

At the same time, 
it - and all other disasters -
reveals the true Haiti --
"Apocalyptic catastrophes don't just raze cities and drown coastlines;
these events, in journalist David Brooks' words,
'wash away the surface of society, the settled way things
have been done.  They expose
the underlying power structures,
the injustices, the patterns
of corruption and the unacknowledged inequalities."  And,
equally, they allow us insight into the conditions
that led to the catastrophe, whether we are talking about Haiti
or Japan."  (Diaz)

He proceeds to discuss how these disasters help us see first
the "true face" of a country:
as Katrina exposed "America's third world,"
Haiti exposes "the third world's third world.'

In many instances, these Apocalyptic disasters reveal
the way that humanity has defaced 
the planet, and in so doing, made it more vulnerable,
and susceptible
to disaster.  

The problem is,
according to Diaz,
that we just won't see the writing on the wall,
or on the planet --

I urge you to read this article.  I feel
uncomfortable summarizing and quoting it all.
Suffice it to say I agree with Diaz when he says:
"After all, apocalypses like the Haitian earthquake
are not only catastrophes; they are also opportunities;
chances for us to see ourselves, to take responsibility for what we see, 
to change."

Recently, we have been receiving our fill of
mini apocalypses,
disasters that have left thousands,
even millions,
of people dead, and entire regions

They stay for a day or two in the news,
then fade away from public attention.

But this does not mean they fade away
in real time and space --
locally, in Haiti and in Japan and elsewhere
the dead are still dead,
the dying still dying,
the destroyed still rubble,
etc. etc etc..

As apocalypses propagate, 
the true apocalypse
may be just around the bend,
and when it does,
the potential for salvation
and second coming,
ends up lying soully
and solely
in us and us alone.

I sing along with Diaz when he says:

"One day something terrible will happen,
and for once we will heed the ruins.
We will begin collectively to take
responsibility for the world we're creating.
Call me foolishly utopian,
but I sincerely believe
this will happen. 
I do.
I just wonder how many millions of people will perish
before it does."


Billy Joe said...

Our loving Creator's providence and mercy arranges little apocalypses for each one of us. To remind me of the devastation drugs and alcohol once had in my life, just when I was entertaining thoughts of having a drink again, brought a man nine years younger than me into the ER. He had cirrhosis of the liver. He was vomiting blood everywhere, The last words I heard him speak were, "Help me".

When will recognize the many apocalypses warning us of the lamentable condition of our world.

Makropoulos said...

Absolutely, Billy. Nice to see you here, and thanks for your wise testimony.