Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I used to have the San Jose Mercury News delivered to my house. That was "before". Before I sold my house. Before the economy went into the toilet. Before I lost my job. Before Knight-Ridder sold the flailing Mercury News. Before, as in "many years before". Or, as in the beginning of many a fairy tale, "a long, long time ago".

Instead, during my pseudo-sabbatical, I am now taking long morning walks to Starbucks. Once there, I order a cup of extra-hot water and peruse the New York Times and the Mercury News. Front page only, so I don't wrinkle the paper for whoever actually buys it. On very rare occasions I will see an article I want to read all the way through and actually buy the Times. Yesterday was such a day. I bought a copy of the paper, to read the entire article written about how the people of Haiti are doing now, a few months after the earthquake. (Not so well, it turns out, for those of you who haven't read the article.) The story continued on page six, so I turned to page six and finished reading the article. And there in all its ironic glory, on the opposite page, page 7, was an ad for the Annual Shoe Sale at Nordstrom's. Photographs of expensive women's shoes, in rows six or seven across, and six or seven down, in all their fabulous shiny, high-heeled, sling-backed glory.

The dichotomy was startling, and the contrast between the two was stark. Did the editors juxtapose the article and the ad on purpose? If there had been a button to push on either page to instantaneously donate money to Haiti, I have no doubt that I would have pushed it without batting an eyelash. It made me wonder how we can live without guilt in a country of relative overall wealth, when thousands of people in other countries don't have a decent roof over their heads or clean water to drink. Most of the people of Haiti don't even have dime store flip-flops to wear on their feet. Or a level, rubble-free place to pitch their make-shift tents so that their meager belongings won't get flooded during the rainy season, which is soon to descend on the poverty stricken, building crumbled city of Port-Au-Prince, in the nation of Haiti, on the beautiful island of Hispaniola, which is located midway between Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory) and Cuba, practically right in our own backyard.

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