Thursday, December 04, 2008

Every Day I'm Grateful

I have been struggling lately, mostly with the awful recognition that I don't spend nearly enough time or mental energy being thankful for how profoundly blessed and lucky I am to be who I am.

I don't mean that in an "I'm so fly" way... even though that's clearly the case, right, kids?!

...I mean that even though I have had a shitty, shitty year, I know that most of my days have been good ones. I've been on food stamps; but I've never really gone hungry. It's been touch-and-go as to whether I'd have a roof over my head in the past; but I've never really been homeless. I've been in real physical danger before, but obviously I made it through without being raped or assaulted or killed.

I'm not trying to pee in any one's kool-aid, but I would like to step up and say that I, for one, am increasingly aware of just how fucking lucky I have been. I heard this story on NPR the other day about the food crisis in Zimbabwe. I know you know what I'm talking about. That bit about how some people are so desperate for food that they have been forced to sift through cow dung for undigested corn kernels, which they then pound into meal and eat...?

Ladies and gentlemen. I submit to you that that is an abomination. How do we allow that to happen? And yet, how do we help? It's such a huge problem. Where does one person fit in? How does one person start to help? I don't know, but I have to find out. I just can't sleep right anymore.

Undigested corn kernels. From cow dung. I have never, and barring some kind of cataclysm, will never be that hungry. A lot of people who live in this country can say that with reasonable fucking certainty. And a lot of people in other countries can't.

Anyway, when I feel like this, it helps to focus on things a little closer to home, and try to make one small thing better. If you're the same, please consider donating via the wonderful DonorsChoose to a couple of teachers in poverty-stricken, inner-city schools in this very country. I read about some today at ellephd. A particularly compelling proposal is excerpted below*:

We can not learn without the basic foundation. I teach high schoolers, 9th-12th grades. My students are considered high risk for dropping out. Many of them want to succeed, but having paper and pencil for many of them is a challenge. Our school does not have a counselor, therefore I take on this task for free. I assist them with essays for colleges, correspondence work to earn credits if they are short for graduation, tutor after school with math, English, and other subjects, and help them complete all of their college admission processes from FAFSA to the application stage. These basic supplies would help them and me so much because they are embarrassed when they do not have pen and paper. I try to buy what I can, but in my state, my parish is the second poorest. We are paid at the bottom of the state. Please help me. Thank you.

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