Category: Social Justice

Help Haiti.
For The World Is Ever In Your Hands.

January 17th, 2010 — 03:11 pm

The news runs all night and all day: in the barber shop, at the proverbial watercooler, on the seldom-watched television that has always lurked in the corner of our living room. In class, I ask my students to search news sites and blogs, and report on all the ways that social media – the stuff of postmodern interconnection – serves our global awareness. At night, my daughter and I find Haiti on the map, and I explain: how the houses were poorly built, how the concrete fell on the people: look, there they are in photographs, hurt, orphaned, helpless, alone in the midst of everything fallen.

Over at Bottom of the Glass, Billy reminds us that Haiti “no more needs our love and attention and money now than they did two weeks ago”, and it’s true: the world has always needed us, both here and abroad. But it is just as true that as the last few survivors pass on in their dark undiscovered graves, there is a danger that we are already moving on, returning our attention to our smaller selves. Disasters focus our attention, but our attention is ever-more fleeting. Facebook status updates return to the trivial, our daily minutia more immediate than some distant civilization in ruins. Just four months after the Indonesian earthquake, as with so many other, older global hotspots of desperation, the wells of our still-needed support have run dry.

Remember the dead, and the damaged; the poor, and the hungry. Remember, too, the support we did not send: the money that would have strengthened those walls before the world shook in anger, and they fell. Commit to the dream: that one day, all children will join hands as sisters and brothers, and play together, and know each other, and not forget until it is too late.

Give of yourself, now and always, in your own community and abroad. For the world is always crumbling somewhere. And that somewhere is always all around us.

Across the world, musicians and artists from Arcade Fire and Amy Millan to rappers Flo Rida and Young Jeezy to Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean have already begun their outpouring of support for Haiti. Inevitable yet no less appropriate or desperately relevant than the concerts for Katrina, the rallies for Tibet, the drives for the Asian tsunamis, the memorials for a post-9/11 New York, these events and fundraisers are nonetheless worth our attention.

If you have the power to give, then there is nothing gauche about seizing the moment that seems right for you. Find or organize your own local benefit. Donate to Paste. Download Adrian Heath’s new album. Head to NYC’s City Winery this Wednesday through the following Monday for a 4-night series of concert events starring Josh Ritter, the Swell Season, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Roseanne Cash, Vienna Teng, Yo La Tengo, and a whole host of other talent. Do it, and along with some great music, you’ll get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from giving.

Myself, I’m committing 40% of every donation to Cover Lay Down for the next month to those who need it, both locally and abroad: half to our local food pantry, and half to Doctors Without Borders to support efforts in Haiti and beyond. As a gift-in-kind, all who donate through Cover Lay Down before Feb 17th will receive a bootleg mix of live covers from this past year’s Clearwater, Grey Fox, and Falcon Ridge Folk Festivals, with all tracks recorded by yours truly, and available nowhere else. Featured artists include Old Crow Medicine Show, Sarah Jarosz, Tim O’Brien, Crooked Still, Tracy Grammer and Jim Henry, Susan Werner, Stonehoney, and more. I think you’ll like it, and I’m honored to open up my personal archives for this excellent cause.

But in the end, it does not matter how we give. It matters that we give. And that we commit our life to giving, and to the memory of the fallen, if we are able.

More than ever before, we are living the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. We are all one people, and as such, we are beholden to each other to sustain the world. We have learned, each in our own way: remain silent and aloof, and the world will fall around us.

Here’s a short, somewhat random soundtrack for the occasion, with a little something for every one of us – both those who suffer, and those whose hands reach out to help.

Click HERE to donate to Cover Lay Down / Doctors Without Borders / The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and receive your link to our exclusive live Summer ’09 bootleg digital download. No minimum donation required – even a dollar makes a difference…

304 comments » | Social Justice