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Everyone undoubtedly has something to say about the recent events in the Philippines. Whether it’s to complain, vent frustration, beg for help or attempt to make sense of it all, mass media and social media have it all for those who are to listen, read or browse. I, myself, have pored over articles and photos of the effects of typhoon Yolanda until I cannot not take anymore. So I do something else, something trivial to get my mind off the calamity until I am drawn again by a catchy headline or a striking photo. And then I think, “how lucky am I that I have the luxury of taking ‘time off’ from a tragedy.” I am close enough to the tragedy to be moved by it and to do something with it, but far enough away that I don’t have to live with it.

And therein lies the tension that exists in most of us. We are grateful to have been spared and guilty for being grateful when others suffer so. We want to do things and help, even as we are aware how helpless we can be with insurmountable odds against us. Those of us who were least affected attempt to go about our daily lives, now fully aware how much of a gift the daily commute and traffic, usual workload and stresses, normal routines and meals actually are. How much would the survivors and victims give to have their normal, everyday lives back?

It took me three attempts to begin this article. And it’s taking me hours to finish because the truth is, I am at a loss. I had hoped to find something inspiring and worthwhile to give people hope and encouragement. I know what to DO. We give. We help. We pray. But I don’t really know what I think yet. What exactly I feel. I have not sorted through this whole storm (forgive the metaphor) that rages inside me. What do I say that hasn’t been said before? What call to action can I shout that has not been shouted out a hundred times over this past week? What prayer can I share that has not been whispered, said or even shouted a million times these past few days?

I could I suppose choose not to be affected. To give, brush the dust off my hands and then go about life as if nothing ever happened. Until the next calamity comes to disturb me again. But what kind of a life is that? To live unchanged and unaffected by everything surrounding us, to live in a bubble apart from everyone.

That would have been an easier path. But if a choice has to be made between ease and meaning, I should definitely choose meaning. (Even if sometimes I have chosen otherwise. Oh well, I am a work in progress.) I hope all of us (myself definitely included) can find more meaning in helping ease the lives of the survivors and victims through prayers, donations, relief efforts and kindness. And right now, that’s what I’m hanging on to. Hope.

[Originally written in TACKED THOUGHTS for The Freeman
by Nancy Unchuan Toledo]

About Nancy Unchuan Toledo

When Nancy started teaching high school at age 21, she didn’t really think she’d make a career out of it. She was right. Ten years later and she realized teaching isn’t her career, it’s her passion. Writing is her passion, too, and she writes a bi-monthly column for the Freeman. Mostly she writes about her family, her friends, her students, her experiences in teaching, her love of books and her faith. Because those are the things that she cares about the most–although not necessarily in that order.

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