10 January 2009

To blame -- or not

Yesterday's newspaper (Friday, 9Jan) featured a photograph of furloughed state employees using their time off to benefit the less fortunate, specifically sorting food at the Harvest Hope Food Bank. There was no story to speak of, just a long caption under the photograph. Undoubtedly, being on furlough because of South Carolina's financial crisis was inconvenient for this group of people and they may well have whined and complained when the order was issued. But, they made a remarkable choice. They chose not to feel sorry for themselves; they chose to acknowledge that there are people in Columbia worst off than they are; they chose to put themselves out. I was touched.

This morning I saw a short short piece about the demise of several pirates in the Gulf of Aden. They were part of the group of Somalis who had some two months ago hijacked the Sirius Star which carried a cargo of crude oil. It seems the ransom of $3 million had been paid -- the bundle of cash dropped on the deck of the ship via parachute. The pirates as they made away with their share of the money -- fearful of being attacked by military ships patrolling the busy shipping lane and travelling at high speed, capsized their boat and drowned (and the money was lost). Relatives of the pirates blame the naval surveillance for the accident, but say nothing about the deceased line of work.

I am not commenting in any way on Caucasian vs Arab, western vs eastern, Christian vs Islam, America vs Somalia. Rather, I am observing and wondering about where hope comes from -- and the same for blame. Why do some people, in the face of adversity, move beyond whatever their initial reaction and choose sorting stock in a food bank. They could have sulked through their two-day furlough and the associated weekend, parking themselves in front of the television or have comforted themselves by shopping and eating out, spending money they didn't have. And, why do others find something along the lives of piracy (insider trading, bilking investors, running a company into the ground) to be their best option and then blame someone else when they get caught?

No answers. Only questions. And the hope that I'd find it in myself to be happy sorting food.

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