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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Haiti" to 90999

Dear Readers,

If you haven't heard yet, the American Red Cross has mobilized a very easy, effective way to raise money to go toward the relief effort so desperately needed in Haiti.  I'm sure you know how immediate and dire the circumstances are--just tune in to CNN for five minutes if you don't.  Understandably, more than anything they need money. 
The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.
OK simply text "Haiti" to 90999 .......and your cell phone will be charged $10.00 (something most of us can easily afford even during a recession).

Shortly after you send the text, you will receive a text confirming that you indeed want to donate $10.00, in which you text back, "Yes".  It's legit and it's effective.  Click here for more information and to reassure yourself that this is a valid relief initiative: American Red Cross Haiti Relief Effort

This is SO EASY and it has the potential TO RAISE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to help other HUMAN BEINGS.  Please consider helping ...


For me life is a tapestry in which its warp and weft--you know the process by which two distinct yarns or threads are woven up & over, and down & under to create a weave--has evolved a storied, ancient, priceless tapestry that has misty edges that make the beginning and the end of it mysterious and unknown.

The tapestry is huge and colorful and eclectic.  It is soft here and rough there.  It is rich with new dense wool and it is thin, fragile, nearly worn-through cotton.  It is rich and poor.  It is fragrant and fetid.  It is kind and it is cruel.  It is fair and unfair.  It is warm, it is cold.  And we seem to think it goes on endlessly.

But my favorite part of thinking of life this way is the idea that throughout its weave, each and every thread is connected to all the other threads in the way that, say, one sleeve, thread by thread is connected to the rest of a garment--which is connected to the collar which is (ta-da!) connected to the other sleeve.

Now if you were to ask me who I would trust more, a human or an animal, I would answer (unless it was a hungry tiger in a small cage with me--give me a break--I'm trying to make a point here!) ....the animal.    Animals have remained true to their original natures.  At least you can be fairly sure of what you're dealing with when it comes to just about any animal species. 

But we humans ......we're a different story.  We have evolved astoundingly!  Yet we remain firmly planted to terra firma by virtue of the exact same DNA that our nomadic, pre-tribal, ape-like, first modern human ancestors bequeathed us.  Modern Homo Sapien Sapiens (yes, just learned this in quick little research--Neanderthals are included in Homo Sapien genus--modern man is technically in the Homo Sapien Sapien (two "Sapiens"!) genus--who knew?), so human kind has been evolving for more than 500,000 years; modern man, of who's DNA I am referring to, for a mere 195,000 years.

In this relatively short time frame, we have learned to create life, one astounding masterpiece--be it artistic, or technological, or simply humanitarian--at a time and we have learned how to wipe all life from earth if we are so inclined.  Homo Sapien Sapien has conquered all habitable parts of the planet and is the undisputed ruler of the food chain yet our fears and instincts are rooted to a time, pre-civilization, when we were hunter gatherers.

In other words, we've evolved into a global community, a global civilization, whether our DNA likes it or not.

Quick overview:

1) Life is a tapestry in which we are all connected.

2) Our species evolved magnificently but, in equal measure, we are ancient, cruel-minded, predictably provincial, and woefully out-of-date in comparison to our accomplishments.

So with this highly opinionated  .....opinion the backdrop, tonight I found it ironic that as the horror in Haiti unfurls on our TV sets, I happened to catch the second episode of a series on PBS called "The Human Spark".  Click here for a quick description of the series: The Human Spark, series introduction (1:00)

And, now, click here for a quick description of tonight's episode: The Human Spark, Episode Two "So Human, So Chimp", introduction (00:30)

If you can't tell already, it fascinated me.  My favorite part was Chapter Four called "Chimps vs. Children".  It turns out, in experiments on very, very young human children there is a distinct difference in how we learn and how we manifest what we've learned and how highly motivated we are to help other people (even people we don't know) vs. these qualities in our closest ancestor, chimps.  Now, chimps learn just as quickly and effectively as children.  And chimps "help" when asked to too.  But the uber-fascinating difference is how eager human children are to help, and to help, even in ways they weren't asked to.
Btw, snide cynical me has to add that these experiments in order to accurately measure the true human impulse, has to be performed on young humans before we become suspicious, manipulative (not very much) older humans.  And these very young humans portray an adorable, purely human, altruistic nature that, for once, makes me proud to be a Homo Sapien Sapien.
If you're inclined you can watch the entire 54:42 episode called "So Human, So Chimp".  Or if you can spare 11:55 for just Chapter Four I promise you won't be sorry.  Just click here and look for Chapter Four, "Chimps vs. Children", or zoom to 29:11 left in the episode: The Human Spark, Episode Two "So Human, So Chimp", full episode (54:42)

If you only have a couple of minutes to spare, indulge me and watch this quick 2:25 clip: The Human Spark, Episode Two "So Human, So Chimp", video excerpt "Chimps vs. Children" (2:26)


So I go to bed tonight with all this whirling about in my puny hunter-gatherer brain.  Do I want to be in Haiti helping out right now?  NO.  Do I know any Haitians?  No.  Can I relate to them?  Not really.  Do I even know where Haiti is? (beyond embarrassed to admit this) No. But somewhere deep in my cells, I guess that place where my ingenious, but faulty, DNA lies I feel unsettled.  I feel an ancient throb, a dull ache.  And I can only attribute it to one thing: that somewhere else on this tapestry, a hole has been viciously rent, this time not by human hands, just by circumstances even beyond our control. 

Let's try to re-remember that human spark that is magnificent and that we never really outgrow, we just often forget about--that thing that makes us human, that makes us want to help as much as we possibly can even if you're a stranger, even if you live on the other side of the planet.  Even if you're only a thread on the opposite sleeve.


Anonymous said...

ok :-)

Kimberly said...

I have another award for you!

"And so our stories go..." said...

Thanks for the information about the Red Cross. I feel so sorry for those people.

Sarah said...

You are doing such a great job with this blog! I am so proud of you!
Did you know that my son David spent some time in Haiti in high school builing a playground? When they hung a swing, it was the first one the local children had ever had...such a simple childhood pleasure. My heart breaks for these folks, who struggle in the very best of times...

Maryse said...

Great post, Laurie! We are all connected and life is a tapestry. We do not understand the intricacies of the masterpiece but we know we're essential to its unfolding. Life is what it is. And we love to help. Inspiring reminder of our true nature!

67notout said...

Arrived here via blogcatalog.

The Haiti situation is hard to view and I think we all have to do our bit. I'm in England and anyone in the UK can make a donation at

We are all linked or threaded together. It's why coincidences happen in life. Everything we do or say or think has a response.

Enjoyed your writing.

I Saw You Dancing said...

Well done, Laurie. You have woven together the threads of this story beautifully. It's very powerful and moving -- and a timely, poignant reminder of our shared humanity.
I hope lots of people read this post and are inspired to help, in whatever way they can.

jen said...

Wonderful, wonderful post, Laurie. You really are a great writer and thinker.

I wanted to let you know - you won the Quisp T-shirt!

Andi said...

Beautiful post. First thanks for the info on the text, I don't watch TV so I missed this and it is really easy to do. I like your description of life as a tapestry and in particular, this sentence: "And I can only attribute it to one thing: that somewhere else on this tapestry, a hole has been viciously rent, this time not by human hands, just by circumstances even beyond our control. " Sometimes we feel things on a level that can't be explained and maybe shouldn't be, but I think your conclusion is a good one.

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