Wednesday, September 14, 2005

We Help Us

This blog is kind of like a diary for me, and while it's primarily a golf diary, it's mine to use as I wish. This post is not about golf. Just a heads up for those readers who only want golf stories.

Maybe I have a fragile psyche. The question I ask myself is whether or not I’d like to strengthen it. With me, it’s kind of all or nothing so I’d probably have to really shut off my emotions and be a hard, cold person to achieve that. After September 11, 2001, it took me about a year to not feel guilty for even smiling. I swore I would change my life and make something more meaningful out of it. I didn’t.

With all the suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, again I feel guilty for enjoying anything. I admit I have golfed, but I’ve tried my best to not enjoy it. How stupid is that? I mean, if we can’t go about our normal lives, that’s like letting Mother Nature win, right? Wait, I think I’ve got some crossed wires in my programming. Anyway, I haven’t been inspired to write anything or post anything because it just didn’t seem important enough with all that’s going on.

I see all the finger pointing going on over what went wrong. I agree that there were some serious problems with the “emergency response” but isn’t what really went wrong that a giant f*&%ing hurricane hit the coast? At least after 9/11 we not only had someone to blame, we had someone taking responsibility for it. That made it easy for everyone to rally together against the bad guys, feel really angry and figure out what to do about it. Okay, so that response was (is) troublesome, too, but that’s another article altogether. So people are looking for someone to blame. Here’s a hint: they call it an “act of God.” Or, if you prefer, an “act of Nature.” I know, I know, it’s hard to get angry at and especially hard to punish God or Nature. And since we, as humans, have the ability to help one another in times of crisis, the scrutiny is going to fall on those with the power to do the most. The angry wrath of the masses will follow when that scrutiny uncovers errors, ineptitude or the perception of it.

Meanwhile, I use the same rationale to blame myself and feel guilty. I’m neither nature nor God (really?), not even an elected official. Somehow, I still feel like I’m one of the ones with the “power to do the most” yet I sit back and do nothing. Therefore I feel guilty and try not to let myself enjoy even the smallest pleasures while the people are dying and suffering. A lot of good that does. So, with that in mind, I want to share my idea for helping because I know I won’t get off my ass and do it and maybe someone else actually will run with it.

We Help Us

When people see suffering, we want to help. At least most of us do. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to help by contributing piles of money. Some have the luxury to be able to donate their time and actually get in there and physically help. These people are even more fortunate because now that they’ve contributed they can feel better that they helped. Most of us can only afford to donate a little money and have to continue to work and pay the bills instead of volunteering our time or we’d end up homeless and in need of others’ help. We’d feel better if we could do more, but there’s just no way without putting ourselves in a worse situation. So WE need to help US. The victims or survivors of Katrina need the most help, and the rest of us need help helping.

My idea is to start a charitable foundation to which people who can afford it donate money and the rest of us can donate time. The reason the rest of us can now afford to take the time to donate is because the donated money is going to pay our salaries while we take leaves of absence from our careers. Businesses donate employees and either make the sacrifice to have an open position or fill it temporarily and essentially donate the amount of the salary themselves. We can try to make it socially unacceptable for businesses to just outright replace you, but in rare circumstances where the employer is that rotten, the foundation will also cover the cost of the temporary replacement employee, or even provide said employee because we’ll have a bank of people looking for ways to help. If people can afford to donate time without financial assistance, that’s great, too. Those people can either fill in for absent employees or go to the disaster area and help. It could even help with the unemployment situation by making more jobs available, at least temporarily.

We’d have to start from the top down. The first volunteers would have to be high level executives and human resource types who can get this thing running and keep it organized. Ideally, they’ll need to actually donate some time at first until we get the wheels on. Of course we’ll need kickass fundraisers to get some key initial donations so we can get the word out quickly and start getting the money rolling in right off the bat to cover the expenses and start supplementing worker incomes. Eventually, we’d have all levels of workers contributing, from senior management to construction, to people helping someone move into a new home or cleaning the kennels of the displaced animals. And of course, since the jobs are subsidized, it can also be helping the victims help themselves while earning an income doing it.

I’m serious. This could really be the next big charitable organization, the likes of the Red Cross. Now who can put it together or has an idea to help me get it started? I’d just like to see it get done so if someone wants to steal the idea, that would be great, too. In the mean time, I’m going to go back to my daily life which includes golfing and writing about it. I’m sure I’ll still feel pangs of guilt over it, but like I said at the start of this article, I’m not sure I want to strengthen my psyche. I don’t want to not care. Besides, crying can be healing.

Next post (back to the golf already!).


Dave said...

WOW! That was written with a lot of emotion. I was here in NYC for Sept 11; I posted some pics on my blog (www.clubphysics.blogspot.com). There were very emotional ceremonies most of the day and night at Ground Zero. It’s changed a lot since the fall of the towers. The subway station is up and running. The foundation for the new building is about finished. It’s about time to put a building back up there.

The guilt you feel is universal among us with any compassion for human life. It sprouts in our wanting to give, and reveals itself in the act of giving.

In the Bible, charity is often used to describe love. In the original King James Bible, 1 Corinthians - Chapter 13 – Verse 13, reads “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.”. It’s most commonly translated as faith, hope, and love, but original manuscripts use the word charity. Not a sermon, just a quick bit of trivia.

Golfchick said...

Thanks, Dave. Is this the same Dave who has commented before? I can't tell if it's all one Dave or not.

Anyway, I write something on every September 11 anniversary that I e-mail to all the people I was stranded with in Chicago in 2001. This post is a slightly edited version of this year's edition. It's actually less emotional in some ways than previous editions, and the first one that doesn't focus solely on 9/11.

I love NYC and I've been to ground zero. I would like to be there for a ceremony at some point once I'm relatively confident I won't need to be medicated because of it. I will definitely check out your blog.

I'm not a religious person, but I appreciate a lot of the sentiments and spirit of many religious writings, including the Bible. I am also thankful for the hope and comfort it provides to people who need it. Thanks for the trivia lesson!

Dave said...

Same dave, still looking forward to seeing more of the dog. I'm suprized to see soooo many dogs in NYC! They are everywhere!

Anonymous said...

Golfchick: I love your idea, although it seems really complicted -- i certainly don't have the talent or skills to put something like that together. but the concept seems good in general.

But, really, I wanted to say thank-you for your comments. I agree with Dave about the amount of emotion in your words for this entry, and I can't help but feel similiar emotions. I was in the US Army on Sep 11, 2001, actually, on leave for my honeymoon! I was recalled to help with base security even though the initial threat had passed. I am still in the military and work hard trying my best to secure our futures, but still feel guilt about my life going on. I lost friends in the attacks on 9/11 and have lost even more during the ngoing war on terrorism. But, I still have my wife, and still get to play golf when not delpoyed to foriegn lands.

Right now, I'm stationed outside the US, but not in the fight anywhere, s i get to play golf while my firends are in harms way. And then things like Katrina and now Rita hit our shores. My wife has family all over Florida, her mom in Panama City, FL, so I worry. And yes, I feel a lot guilt over goiing on everyday as if nothing happened. I can't help the same way, but I do donate moeny when I can (not a lot -- I am in the Army after all), but wonder if I could do more.

I will keep going, playing golf and looking for my personal bests -- all the while feeling guilty about the sacrifices and losses so many around us have had to endure. Life goes on for those of us sparred the wrath of God, or nature or fate, or whatever folks want to believe in, (even people magazine recognizes this -- this weeks cover has pictures of the human tragedy surrounding Katrina while the top banner advertises the year's best and worst dressed!) and we cannot let the bad guys, nature or anything else stop us from living! Lets just keep treating each day and each other like the gentleman in Nebraska treated you -- with kinidness so overpowering that you can not take a single breath without feeling unworthy of such service.

Thank-you for getting me to think about this, to put it into words to share with you and your readers my humble thoughts -- God Bless you and God bless America!


Golfchick said...


I like your philosophy for living with kindness and I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

You are already serving our country, so in my opinion, you shouldn't feel guilty and I should be thanking you.
If you're not in harm's way today, you probably were recently or will be soon. Even if not, you're supporting those that are and are willing to take their place at any moment. That's more than a lot of us can say.

Speaking of people that need help and helping them, we should have taken advantage of the increased feelings of patriotism after 9/11 to solicit funds for disabled veterans.
It's natural to grieve for the people who were injured or killed in sudden terrorist attacks because they had no choice in the matter. Soldiers are volunteers trying to defend against that kind of tragedy, so we should want to take care of them as much, if not more than innocent (but random) victims.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and thanks for serving!