Friday, December 31, 2004

My Friend Jane's Beautiful and Touching Letter About the Tsunami and the New Year

My friend and co-writer, Jane Mulholland, has written a beautiful and touching New Year's letter that captures my deep sadness at the tragic events of Christmas Day and its aftermath. So I am posting her letter here for everyone to appreciate. Thank you, Jane, for sharing these heartfelt words. Jane's words are in blue.

December 31, 2004


New Year’s seems a good time to reflect and of course to make resolutions for the coming year. This is a good thing because as living beings growth and change are significant qualities of being alive.

This year is hard, however. The devastation caused by the tsunami has bared us to grief and ruin beyond our wildest imagination. Daily the destruction grows with incomprehensible suffering in a population already challenged by the grind of poverty and in Sri Lanka by civil war.

As I read the paper every morning, I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the damage, angered by President Bush’s slow and minimal response, and powerless to do anything of significance. As I reflect on all of this, I think of a quote I read recently that said not knowing what to do, was no excuse for doing nothing. Remembering that, I took out my check book earlier this week and wrote a check to one of the relief agencies listed in the paper. I will do the same next month as the process of rebuilding what has been lost will take months, if not a lifetime.

In doing this I am aware of how little it is. I am also aware that I am now connected as a member of the world community to the solution. With this small contribution, I remember the 75 year old black lady who told me of her participation in the March on Washington where Martin Luther King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. She said, “It was the most powerful witness, I have experienced in my life.” My Midwestern, Protestant upbringing had not exposed me to the idea of “witnessing.” But immediately I knew what she meant. Part of what I feel is the need to be connected and involved – not to stand apart, but in some way to acknowledge what can’t be comprehended.

Reports say that most of the dead are women and children. What do you do that is significant for the man who has lost his wife and children? What do you do for the orphans in the street? More than nothing is all that will suffice. And no, it is not enough.

Colin Powell now says our early response of $25 million is just the beginning. That the inaugural party will cost a reported $40 million furrows this brow. But like my small check, I will take it as a beginning. I will also keep mindful that as a people we expect a better response from our government and will continue to pressure the White House and my Senators and Congressman and my party to do what is necessary as the need becomes clear.

The number of countries affected by this catastrophe reminds us, we are all in this together. While we are here it is critical that we stay involved, connected, and remain compassionate and caring through our actions, not just through appropriate and appealing words. Your small check will count, will make a difference.

Happy New Year!
In peace and with a promise of greater tolerance and understanding in 2005, Jane Mulholland

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