Friday, October 27, 2017

Dark night

Everything is dark. There are no lights on the streets, no lights in windows, no lights in the sky. The horizon is terribly dark. My eyes can only see night. We are in a very long and very dark night. Collectively. Individually. The world as we have known it is no more.

It is dark in the middle of the day, too, as I look out the window, as I stand in an hour's long line to enter the supermarket and find its shelves empty, and as I walk in the heat on broken roads, empty handed. It is darker still when the president speaks and minimizes our situation, when he drives to a middle class suburban neighborhood for his photo-op 17 days after the hurricane hit and leaves without acknowledgment or recognition of the humanitarian crisis that has already taken hundreds of lives. Hundreds more are dying. Few deaths are reported. That is the real disaster. The inhumanity, the corruption, the greed, the incompetence, and the manipulation of the government who has demonstrated how little people matter and how much big contracts and opportunities do. Political and economic gain has been the priority. It is a dark collective night for this island.

I started writing this 17 days after Hurricane María landed on the whole of Puerto Rico. Today, 38 days later, little to no progress has been made. Commerce has halted. Few schools have opened. Only a very small percentage of businesses and homes have power. Businesses are shutting down, permanently. Where there is running water, it is contaminated. Cancer patients, dialysis patients and others chronically ill are dying. Hospitals are running on generators, some of which have shut down in the middle of surgeries. Disease is spreading. Supplies are scarce, as is food and drinking water. Garbage, waste, rubble, wreckage, and debris are piled on the streets. Mosquitos, flies, and vermon are rampant. Trees lay dead across roads. So do lamp posts and other structures. The press is inaccurate, erroneous, tricky, and deceptive. Politicians have taken to the game. Money raised by some organizations is being held, as are supplies, for political reasons. Crime is on the rise. People are desperate. Telephone communication is unreliable. International help is not allowed in. Obstacles are placed before people who have arrived here to help. Bureaucracy reigns. The airport has become a refugee center. People waiting to leave, but can't. Hopelessness befalls us. Mental health is at an all-time high critical point. We are breaking.

We have survived nature's hurricane, only to succumb to man's aftermath. We are moving from shock, to anger, to full-on despair. It is a stark, dark night. My hope lies in that darkness is not absolute. Even the slimmest sliver of light negates its absoluteness. My hope is that even in this profound sadness we are lifted. Today is a good day to find that little bit of light that can start to contrast our night. May we find it and share it with each other. May Puerto Rico be illumined, electrically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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