global identity

two things have happened today: 1. i was told that the swedish tax authorities wold not be able to change my name and, 2. the world is beginning to see the magnitude of the devastation from the earthquake that hit the country of haiti. it seems that these 2 events are so disconnected. how can there even be any similarities or connections? one is a personal disappointment and the other is a nationwide tragedy. however, as i've thought about the 2 throughout the day, i feel a common thread exists.

being told that i cannot change my name led me to joke with some co-workers that i am having an identity crisis. i can't seem to figure out what my last name is gonna be. mcguire? reynolds? eriksson? mcguire, again? actually, my initial disappointment lasted only a short time. it seems to be a complicated issue and to keep my name as it is may reunite me with my love sooner. yes! i choose to be with her sooner, rather than having a certain name.

you see, my identity is not tied up in my name. it doesn't matter what my name is, what a piece of paper says. they are only letters. symbols.  what really matters is who i am. inside. and how that personality manifests itself outwardly in my life. it doesn't matter what you call me, or what i call you. it matters how we treat each other.

that brings me to the second thing that happened today: the news of the pain, fear, and sadness that haiti is experienceing now due to the 7.0 earthquake. in an already poverty-stricken country, haiti now is enduring destruction: loss of water, power, medical supplies, homes, and human lives. there was already so much need for aid and help in the tiny country, now it is unimaginable for the already poorest country in the western hemisphere. and i am left thinking, what can i do? i always feel a bit of panic when things like this happen...things like hurricane katrina, the tsunami in indonesia. i find myself wishing i could board a plane and get there as soon as possible. what would i do? i don't know. but i have the desire to be there, to hold hands, to provide comfort, and to observe, photograph, and write about what i see and experience.

but, i am not going to haiti. i am in the mountains of north carolina. tomorrow i am going to the high school i go to every day where i teach teenagers who face their own personal challenges and tragedies. however, i still feel a sense of connection to haiti, and afghanistan, and africa, and eastern europe and... you see, who i am - who we all are - is part of this global community. it would be nice if we could all converge on the island of haiti and help out. but, there is plenty we can do wherever we are. i truly believe that if we all would simply teach compassion, acceptance, and love in our everyday lives to the people that we encounter everyday...then we will be making peace and healing the suffering in the world one little moment at a time.

so, my name is irrelevant. i am so much more than my name. we are so much more than individuals. your pain is my pain. and mine is yours. haiti's pain is the pain of the world. but all the suffering seems so overwhelming. what can we do? well, i believe we can live our lives for each other. we can focus not on our names, our cultural differences, and our various nationalities, but on the common humanity we all share. and we can begin by loving each other in our everyday lives.

tomorrow i am not going to haiti. but, i am going to honor haiti, i am going to help... by setting aside 10 minutes to listen to a 17 year old teenage boy tell me about his alcoholic family. i am going to remind a 17 year old teenage girl that she should always believe in herself and to reach for the stars. i am going to give a pep talk to a 16 year old boy who is tempted to drop out of school and join a gang. i am going to write goals for an almost 18 year old young man who feels like giving up because his mother is addicted to drugs. i am going to listen to my co-workers who need a moment to vent their frustrations. i am going to spend some very important time with my love. i am not going to haiti, or iran, or egypt, or latvia; but i am going to teach peace and love where i am. and perhaps that will begin a little movement that one day will burst into a world filled with hope, joy, and justice for all. together it is possible.

pics from here

Postat av: catherine

That was beautiful. Thank you.

2010-01-20 @ 05:56:01

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