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Service, Commitment, and Courage

January 19, 2010

“We’re not leaving you, we’re with you.” This was the message that Jillian Thorp, a Connecticut woman, sent to the people of Haiti via the morning news, after recounting her rescue from a collapsed building. Her statement was very moving and I marveled at its simplicity and eloquence. It offered me inspiration as I sat transfixed by the images of suffering and devastation. It reminded me that this is not a time to turn away from the overwhelming tragedy, but to think about what I can do to assist.

The devastation of the earthquake is horrific, but we can all recognize that there was considerable human suffering there well before this disaster. As with our own American disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the television cameras captured the misery. While the levels of poverty in New Orleans cannot be compared to those in Haiti, there are some parallels that might be drawn in that many of us look away, ignore, and go about our lives in denial of a connection to those who live in poverty. However, Jillian and the many other courageous, caring people who have been living and working in Haiti did not just rush there after the earthquake. They had already made a commitment to serve and care for the people of Haiti.

This weekend we celebrate the life, words, and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He, too, was devoted to making the lives of poor people better. It seems that there could not be a better time for those who have resources to find ways to share with those who have none. I know that I will personally donate to the recovery effort, and I believe that my colleagues and students at Saint Joseph College will also join the effort to make contributions, now and during the rebuilding months ahead.

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