Adele Elliott: Lighting fires

December 11, 2010 11:46:00 PM

Adele Elliott - [email protected]


For a while it seemed that the entire country of Israel was on fire. The heart of the Holy Land appeared to be turning into a wasteland of burnt bushes and ash. As I write this, things are looking up a bit. The blaze has been controlled. The death count is no longer rising. That is all good news in a horrible situation where "good'' is a relative term. 


The world is full of terrible happenings. Cholera in Haiti, AIDS in Africa, Americans losing their jobs and their homes and therefore a sense of self and stability, all are epidemic. 


Some of the causes of such tragedies can be traced to a source. In Israel, a campfire and carelessness started the blaze. In Haiti, people have not recovered from an earthquake almost one year ago, too soon followed by Hurricane Tomas. There they live in boxes and shanties built from rubble. It''s no wonder that they are dying. Those dire conditions breed disease. 


Many people, often far removed from these calamities, place blame on the victims. The suggestion is that they are somehow responsible for their fate. But, misfortune is not selective. Children and other innocents suffer greatly. No one should feel too arrogant about the guilt of those who are hurting. Pain is an equal opportunity aggressor. 


This is our most sacred season, certainly not the time for a depressing column. Indeed, I am feeling full of happiness and goodwill toward my co-inhabitants on Earth. My real intention is to point out how so many countries, religious groups and unrelated peoples come together in terrible times. 


In Israel, help arrived from 16 countries. That fire would continue to burn without it. In Haiti, aid is still delivered daily. International health care workers travel to remote African villages to fight AIDS with medicine and education. 


Although the inclination is to isolate ourselves from global problems, we do not. Humans are at their best when answering a need. 


I don''t understand why we are so violent, so aggressive, most of the time. Countries, their leaders and populace, inflict pain and cruelty. Then, inexplicably, try to heal wounds. Humanity is an overwhelming mass of schizophrenia. Do we need drugs, or counseling, or just a big jolt of wisdom? Someone should set a fire under our species. 


I wish we could harness that sense of emergency compassion. Forget about wars and bombs, and all the reasons we give to justify hate. How wonderful it would be to create a prescription for empathy, in pill form, or water dissolved or packaged in a handy spray. 


If all the countries worked together, harnessing their energy, resources and intelligence, our planet could be almost like heaven. This is the season to begin our steps to greatness.  


Merry Christmas, Golden Triangle, and to all citizens of Earth. Let''s light some candles making all countries a "Holy Land." The fires will take care of themselves.

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.