Archive for January, 2010

On Tuesday of this week, Haiti, long considered the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. As people gathered to sit down for their evening meal, their world opened up to swallow them whole. Buildings crumbled. Cubans felt the tremors and knew instantly that two hundred miles away, thousands were dying.

Most of us watched, spellbound by the kind of tragedy few people will ever personally experience. Safe in our homes, we cried for the victims and looked for ways we could help, even if only in a small way. Many of us prayed and asked “Why them? Why, once again, is this impoverished country forced to suffer?”

It was a rhetorical question.

Not long after the earthquake, though, someone sought to answer it. Pat Robertson, the host of the “700 Club,” spoke up and declared that just as God had punished Americans with Hurricane Katrina, Haiti was now being punished for having a “pact with the devil.”

He was purposely vague, all the better to suggest to average folk that he was privy to knowledge that was beyond them. According to CNN, Robertson blamed the tragedy on something that “happened a long time ago in Haiti,” adding that “people might not want to talk about it.”

In a couple of brief sentences, Pat Robertson supplied an answer that would make a lot of people sigh with relief – those who need to have every event in life shoved into a box and labelled either “Reward” or ‘Punishment,” those who refuse to accept that there is anything in-between, no bad fortune, no “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Life is simple for them that way, you see. These people live by rules and choose to believe that adherence to those rules assures them of every kind of success in life. It makes them feel safe. Most of all, it helps them to feel superior in mind, body and soul. It allows them to sleep, guilt-free, without thinking of those who suffer.

Remember now, Pat Robertson says that Haiti’s ancestors brought this plague of misfortune down upon themselves. Misery, in the minds of those “holier than thou,” is purely self-induced. That frees the self- righteous from feeling any need to reach out and help.

Recently, I experienced the vitriol of the self-righteous firsthand. I wrote about the difficulties of unemployment after fifty-five, and the turn our lives had taken since then. I was warned that the piece would elicit little sympathy, but I was fine with that. After all, sympathy wasn’t my motivation. I simply wanted the public to know that the problem existed, even though it was often hidden.

Over a week, the online essay generated 189 responses, and I was amazed at those that were not only critical of my husband and me, but self-exalting. I fully admitted mistakes, but some people only felt the need to expand on where I went wrong and where they went right. And I politely answered with, “how wonderful that you made such good choices and you’re now financially secure,” but I wanted to add, “but what’s your success got to do with the high number of older workers who despite their experience, are being passed over for jobs?”

I didn’t have to argue my point. Others rushed in to do it for me. But it got me thinking about some people and what motivates their responses to those who are less successful, whether it’s in regard to finances, careers, health, marriages, or family. And what occurred to me is this. Those who work so hard to appear superior are actually petrified. Way down, deep inside, so deep that they can’t even admit it exists, there is the fear that they don’t have things under control as much as they think they do. Admitting any past mistake, or learning that their perfect plan could possibly fall apart, is more than their egos can handle.

They tell themselves that they are at a good point in their lives because they have adhered to the rules of “good living,” that they’ve worked hard, been frugal, planned carefully, eaten well, gone to church, prayed for wealth and success, paid their tithe, and exercised regularly. It allows them to hold their head high and ignore the homeless person on the street. It keeps them guilt-free as they vote against every government programme that suggests a “hand-up” or “handout.”

And while tens of thousands in Haiti are buried under buildings and dying in the streets, it frees the self-righteous to look out their front window and say, with all confidence, “This is what I deserve.”


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An online video of my interview with Mark Kelley is available here: http://www.cbc.ca/connect/2010/01/work-wanted.html

I enjoyed the experience very much. The actual interview was shorter than expected because one prior to mine took off in a whole different direction, and Mark couldn’t cut the person off. I guess that’s one of the drawbacks of live television. lol

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Yesterday’s Stats Canada report wasn’t good, so “Connect with Mark Kelley” has decided to do a show on the job situation. They’ve called me to come in for a live interview tonight. It can be seen on CBC News Network, between 7 and 9 PM Eastern time.

I should be on between 7:15 and 8:00 PM EST.

If it’s cancelled again, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, assume I’m on.

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Happy New Year to my readers! May this year bring you good health, renewed hope, peace, fulfillment and prosperity!

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