Oh, those commercials were maddening.
I remember the childhood angst as I watched that cute little rabbit. Time and time again he would miss out on his chance to taste a stryofoam-sugary bowl of Trix cereal. He was so close! But just like the coyote never catches the road runner, just like President Bush with all of his horses and all of his men, didn’t catch Osama bin Laden, the rabbit never got his cereal.
And then that line, “Trix are for kids!!”
It’s already been a few weeks since we returned from Haiti.
It was E’s eighth time, my first.
I learned ahead of time about the culture shock, was told to be flexible, not to question decisions, and say “see ya” to American favoritism of efficiency, independence, even dress.
I didn’t know what to expect and yet fully expected to be ‘broken.’ Shredded to pieces by the poverty, lack of justice, sub-par education, political corruption.
But the first tears I cried were for myself. Hot, tired tears in the corner of a bare room. This after a long day of working a chaotic medical clinic, riding on dusty country “roads,” eating little. I missed America, hated the non-stop sweat on my face, crouching behind buildings, luke-warm water. Only 3 days in, and I coveted the promise of a soft mattress at the end of a day, missed showers with running water and fruit refreshingly chilled in a fridge. Truthfully, the tears came because I was both wanting and ashamed of my want; needing to be home and hating myself for the pathetic neediness.
E found me sniffling, told me to lie down, gently helped me see Who to rely on again.
Days later, there was a shift. My mind began to align with my body– which was actually doing well– well fed, pretty-well rested, surging with sun-infused vitamin D, fueled with the laughter and song of this fascinating people. It’s strange how quickly the body assimilates to waking early with roosters, eating rice for every meal, bathing from a bucket. It’s the mind and spirit that resist.
The days went by and I saw the shift change from acceptance to love. Their happiness astounded me. like the cool that came in so kindly with the evening rain, their humility was lovely, refreshing.
On several nights, we all sat together, Haitian and American, and offered encouragement to one another. And to hear the Haitians speak, full of gratitude and humility, was the unraveling I expected to find surrounded by the sick and fatherless.
They knew our need for bottled water, our fear of big beetles and lurking rodents, our dependence on shiny toilet seats and huge beds with soft sheets. They weren’t ignorant to our privilege, deaf to our pride. And it struck me. We could’ve been shamed by them, laughed at. We could’ve been rejected for how easily and constantly we were and are fooled–coerced into believing in our constant, many needs. These needs which are simply wants, met by the very people and industries who create them.
Create the ‘need’–sell it; fill the need.
It’s a system we slip into and pass on as quickly as last year’s styles.
Though, we “know” excess may not bring happiness, it is too comfortable to let go. To engrained to carve out of our lives and culture, the heritage we pass on to our children.
Looking into my Haitian friend’s face, I see her knowledge of my flaws, ours really.
And I see acceptance. We both know our cultures are very different; we both have things to learn from the other.
I only hope that as our partnership to bring healing and hope to Haiti continues, we, as Americans, never bring pride. For we have much to learn. I pray, we always, always put on humility– the same humility that enables the Haitian people to accept and love us, silly rabbits.