Thursday, September 15, 2005

TO KNOW: from Ginger Floyd (Prometra USA)

Young Scholars:

I opened my email to these powerful and haunting words written by Dr. Ginger Floyd. She will share at the LEADS-SIS symposium next week. I have known of her commitment to action for years, but not until now her connection to New Orleans. This is a must-read.



My father was born in New Orleans. The house in which he was born and spent his childhood years still stands. Now probably water logged if not completely destroyed. And I sadly realize that I do not have a picture of this structure. I came to Spelman because of my father. I became a physician because of my father. I travel the world because of my father (a wanderlust that we both share). I am truly my father’s child. Lord, am I depressed! Katrina was another disaster that came on the heels on what seems like “too many burdens to bear”. We are still burying 7,000 persons a day (yes, every day) who die from AIDS in Africa. The hallowed out eyes and iron deficient red hair of starving children still actively haunt me from Niger, Ethiopia and Darfur. And surely, we haven’t forgotten the tsumani (wasn’t I just in Indonesia celebrating cremation ceremonies with Bali healers)? And it seems that is was just yesterday morning in my New York office that I watched the plane strike the Twin Towers on television and looked out the window to see the smoke and ash that filled the air. But, depression (the situational type) is both real and normal. I sat addicted to news reports for days, wallowing in this feeling of hopelessness and despair. I am a “live long and prosper” Star Trek fan. Although I love Spock (have you ever read Leonard Nimoy’s love poetry?), I resonate with the character who is the ship’s counselor – the empathy. Although, in comparison to her, I fall significantly short. She is able to feel the other person’s pain, absorb it and make it better. I am able to feel the pain (lord, how it hurts), but feel pretty helpless in relieving the pain. And it seems like today there is so much pain throughout the world. I am also a decisive person (another trait from my dad). My decision was to address this depression by doing something. I love the saying, “don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution”. So we (my office) decide to do something – to volunteer at a shelter which provides services to the victims of the Katrina hurricane. After the first day of assisting in the medical clinic, why did I come home at the end of the day very tired and somehow more depressed? We, no doubt, provided needed and wanted services to men, women and children whose lives had been completely upturned, disrupted and forever changed by this natural disaster. We in our very small way gave our gift of service. What is the common denominator? What calls to our inner self that somehow eats away, constantly, at the very fiber of our humanity? Can we do everything that needs to be done? Can we make a difference that truly counts? Is our little gift significant enough? I often wish that I could close my mind to these situations. That I could move on with my world, as if they were not a part of it. I sometime wish I did not truly understand the basis and real impact of AIDS, the global strategy to continue an underclass, the facts of gender inequality, the whys of wars and the seeds of racism. To know is the source of this discontent.. To know mandates action. To know mandates dialogue. To know mandates service. To know. To know. To know. ginger --


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