Inspiration Information — audacity of hope

by aaron on January 14, 2011

“These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle. They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, all around us, just waiting to be summoned.”   -Barack Obama

We can’t run from tragedy.  We can’t hide under the bed, bury our necks in the sand like so many startled ostriches.  Tragedy by definition means that which is unavoidable.  It appears in thunderbolts, the flash of a muzzle, the sudden shock of solid ground simply dropping away beneath you.  It comes fast and violent and leaves a wound of ripples that radiate both outward and inward in aftershocks of emotional and psychological devastation.

Two days ago marked the 1 year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake, one of the worst natural tragedies in human history.  An estimated 316,000 people died.  A million more became, and still remain, homeless.    There are now more orphans in Haiti than anywhere else in the world.  Not to mention lack of clean water, insufficient food, and a cholera outbreak that has claimed over 3,500 more people.  It was a tragedy of such incomprehensible proportions, that it seems impossible and almost callous to search for any glimmer of silver lining among the rubble.

And yet

It is precisely in these moments of greatest darkness that hope is born.  The resiliency of the human spirit to survive, to rise constantly from the depths of adversity and reach for the light, is sharpened and defined by the knife’s edge of tragedy.  So it is that everywhere you look in Haiti, there are stories of inspiration.  There are people taking action, salvaging tools and material and rebuilding their homes.  And not just rebuilding, fortifying them.  Making them stronger than before.  Strong enough to withstand another earthquake.  Strong enough even to match their unbreakable hearts.


One such story of hope is that of John Baker, catcher for Major League Baseball’s Florida Marlins, who along with his team members recently spearheaded a visit to Haiti as a part of the Marlin’s mission to to construct an “Inspiration Village” — a brand new community starting with 25 homes, a water well, a solar-powered water-purification unit and a community center, “which will provide the opportunity for further education in agricultural practices and animal husbandry in hopes of providing the tools families need to support themselves long-term.”  The team set out to raise $150,000 to get the project up and completed by March.  They’ve raised significantly more than that and continue to collect money  through the Homes for Haiti campaign, which you can contribute to by visiting Marlins.com .

“Others are here to repair our country. We are here to repair our souls.” -54-year-old Acsonne Frederique, a local haitian

There is a place call “Happiness Alley”.  It is one of the poorest regions in the country.  Most of the houses are pieced together from spare bits of bamboo and shredded tarp.  The children run barefoot through the garbage, which is strewn everywhere.  And yet, the kids smile bigger and brighter than anywhere else.  They have nothing, but they are happy.   Because they have each other.  Because they are alive.

The same day Haiti commemorated a year post-quake, here in America we held our own commemoration to mourn the Arizona shooting tragedy.  In the wake of this brutal, random act of violence, President Obama stepped to the podium with a incredible message of hope, an inspiring call for reflection and action.

So sudden loss causes us to look backward -– but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.

We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.  Perhaps we question whether we’re doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved — and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.”

We can not run from tragedy.  But we can face it head on.  We can use loss to reevaluate that which is essential, important, meaningful.  In nature, sometimes a forest needs to burn completely before new seeds can break through the soil.  New, stronger trees reach for the light.

Hope is a phoenix.  No matter how many ways we beat it, burn it, bury it in rubble, abject it to crippling poverty, deadly disease and acts of unconscionable hate and terrorism… still hope rises.  And to me, that is the most inspiring truth of all.

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