A few hours of peace

Published 2:35 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The flight was to be just over five hours long, plenty of time for me to write this week’s article. No topic came to mind during the week. But I often wait until the last minute since there is no shortage of things around us to write about.

I did, however, have a new gadget to try on this flight. After years of traveling, I finally bought a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones. I didn’t even open the box until I got to the airport. I put them in my briefcase without a thought that it might take me a while to figure out how to use them. I was probably somewhere over Arkansas before I finally got the sound to match the screen in front of me.

That gave me the rest of the trip to just marvel at how quiet the plane became. The quiet matched with the pure sounds of the digital songs on my computer made me feel as if I was in a concert hall, not a loud jet full of noisy people.

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The classical music filled my head and pushed out any of the budding thoughts about this column. I did not write or think. I just dwelled in the peaceful relaxation of the moment without a care in the world.

The next thing I knew we were landing in Los Angeles. I didn’t go to sleep. The time just passed by quickly. So quickly in fact, I am writing this at midnight; paying the price for several hours of relaxation.

At the airport, I saw the headlines about the bankers receiving $145 billion in bonuses for this past year. When I got in the taxi, I heard about the continuing devastation and despair in Haiti. What an odd combination of events to bring me back down to earth.

They aren’t connected, of course, and as a believer in free enterprise, I hesitate to criticize anyone from being successful. Of course the fact they recovered so quickly with the help of billions of taxpayer’s dollars does complicate things. And we are talking about billions, not millions, in bonuses for a relatively small amount of people.

Then you see the gut-wrenching pictures from Haiti, a country already so poor most of us can’t comprehend their lives, even before the devastating earthquake. Most Haitians survive on less than $2 a day, with half living on just a dollar a day.

What do you suppose these victims would give for the three hours of peace I had this afternoon?

We worry and fret about the most trivial of things while others walk hours for water. We worry about the price of gas when their whole nation has less than a three-day supply.

We are consumed by the price of health care without stopping to consider what it must be like to be in a country without much health care at all. Amputations without anesthesia and wounds without antibiotics. Conditions similar to the battlefield in the American Civil War will make their misery continue long after the first week’s newscasts have faded from memory.

It is reassuring to see the rescue teams from around the world descend on this small, poor country. Haiti has nothing to offer in return. There is no oil, natural resource or strategic military base. Their government is a shambles with their military and police force decimated by the same tragedy that has fallen on their country. Yet, newscasts show team after team risking their lives to save someone they never met.

Notwithstanding the obscene amount being paid to Wall Street bankers, the American public is responding to our neighbor in the Caribbean. Everywhere you go you see and hear fund-raising pleas for the massive needs. It will never be enough, but it can and will help those trying to rebuild their lives.

You and I can do our part. Consider a donation to any of the many charities that are supporting Haitian relief. And pray for them to have a few hours of peace. It is amazing how it can rejuvenate the soul.