What you can do
by TRACEY BARNES PRIESTLEY
I HAD A "GOOD NEWS" STORY ALL MAPPED out for this week, feeling sure you would be pleased to learn about yet another group of impressive people right here among us. All I needed to do was sit down at the computer and write.
But writing is a funny business. On the day I set aside to produce my column, I found myself doing anything but writing. Laundry was folded, the kitchen cleaned up, dinner simmered on the stove. The morning was spent doing errands that could have easily waited. For lunch, I carefully diced a bowl of fruit when typically I stand at the kitchen sink, look out at the garden, and nibble whatever is handy.
Finally, I could no longer avoid my computer. That little voice in my head demanded I face my responsibility. Staring at the empty screen, I had to acknowledge a royal case of writer's block. (I'd known it all along, of course, but writers are quite capable of dancing around the edges of this paralyzing circumstance for varying lengths of time.) Just what in the world was I avoiding?
Of course, that was exactly it -- the world, more specifically, the war, which had me, like many of you, off balance. How could I possibly write about good news when there was so much bad news everywhere?
So I sat some more and tried to see if I could find anything remotely good about the international situation. I ran through a mental checklist: death and destruction; the rabid expression of polarized political opinions; countries throughout the globe divided. Nope, absolutely nothing good there.
But finally I realized that there are positive, yet simple, things each of us can be doing to manage these difficult times. Now, more than ever, there is a great need for compassion and tolerance both at home and for those on the other side of the world. With that as a premise, consider what positive action you can take.
As citizens of this country we can do something, anything that reflects our beliefs, whatever they may be. If you agree with the war, speak up. If you don't agree, speak up. We have the right to be heard, no matter what our political beliefs. It is this freedom, among so many others, that makes life in the United States so precious. However, it is crucial that we express our beliefs with respect and civility. Damage is done and messages are lost when the messenger has a lousy delivery.
Our local National Guard Unit, Bravo Company 579, has been hit especially hard. The Company Commander, Capt. Eddie Morgan, explained that the men and women in the guard, and reservists in all military branches, are in a unique situation. Living their everyday lives, they suddenly learn they are to be deployed and their lives take a dramatic turn. Of concern to all of them is the impact their deployment has on their families.
Morgan actually did have had some "good news" to report on this situation. Local Boy Scout troops will be donating their time to help these families complete those everyday chores that pile up when a spouse and/or parent suddenly ships out. They'll help chop wood, mow the grass, anything that makes the life of the family run a little smoother.
He also told me about a fund at Humboldt Area Foundation that is being set up to aid these families. For information on how to apply for assistance, call Morgan at 445-8841. To make a donation to the HAF fund, call 442-2993.
If you want to express support and appreciation for the men and women serving in our military, go to www.anyservicemember.org. There you can send a message to any soldier, in any branch of the armed services. (Please respect the guidelines for usage. This is not the place to bash these men and women. The function of this site is to relay positive, supportive messages.)
Perhaps you want to aid the humanitarian efforts for the people of Iraq. (It is estimated that approximately 600,000 refugees and as many as 2 million displaced residents of Iraq will need food, water, medical supplies and shelter.) Linda Nellist of the local American Red Cross (443-4521) says your donation to this organization will ultimately help the International Red Cross implement emergency relief activities. You may also call 1-800-HELPNOW or log on to www.redcross.org or www.prepare.org for more information and suggestions for helping both here at home and abroad.
I have yet to encounter anyone who doesn't have very strong feelings about this war. In closing, I pass on to you something I received in an e-mail from a friend:
"Resist thinking that this is all there is. Resist the temptation to drown in fatalism, to shake your head and sigh and just throw in the towel. Realize this is the perfect moment to change the energy of the world, to step right up and crank your personal volume; right when it seems all dark and bitter and offensive and acrimonious and conflicted and bilious -- here's your opening." (Author unknown.)
I only hope that each of us can make positive contributions to the current situation and that, most importantly, this war is resolved quickly.
© Copyright 2003, North Coast Journal, Inc.