Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Powerless

At precisely 1:54 this morning, my entire neighbourhood lost power. Those of you readers who know me well will gasp in shock, as you realize that this is right in the middle of prime study time for me. One minute I’m happily reading tweets and looking for a blog plugin for the English club (and yes, working on an English paper), the next minute everything around me went dark.

To be honest, my first thought was “oh, Mum is making a statement about the lateness of the hour.” Then, I realized that she couldn’t have turned off the lamp beside me without me noticing her doing it. Then, my internet connection disappeared.

It’s one thing to lose power during the day. You have to keep your fridge and freezer closed, interior rooms may be a little dim, and the radio will fall silent. Really though, it’s not much of an imposition. Losing your power at night is a whole different ball game.

For one, I can’t see anything. I mean, the ENTIRE neighbourhood has no power- this includes street lamps. Two, I stupidly didn’t charge my phone for the last 48 hours, so I’m down to a sliver of battery and I need my phone to wake me up in the morning. Thankfully, I did charge my iPod so it’s my portable lighting device. As for my laptop- well, I obviously don’t have internet, but I’m on powersaver and typing this right now. I’m good to go for another hour or two.

This whole incident is just bringing home how much we rely on things that most people don’t even have. It’s automatic to walk into a dark room and reach for the light switch. You expect that when you open the fridge, a little light will pop on. When I turn on my iPod, I expect to see my wifi signal. When I plug in my phone, I expect it to charge. When we look outside, we expect to see the porch lights on the neighbour’s houses.

However, right now in Haiti, there are people simply wondering if their house is still standing, if their neighbours are still alive, and if they will be able to find any sort of food. Bodies are being discovered with sickening regularity, each body representing not only a life lost, but also a family destroyed. I’m sure that they aren’t worrying about charging their cellphones, or surfing the web on their iPods. I’m sure that all they want is their family and friends to be alive, and to know where to find food, clothing, and shelter.

My house is still structurally unchanged- even my alarm system is still set thanks to back-up batteries. I have plenty of food and water in my fridge and garage. My family is all around me, safely tucked into their beds. My phone may be low on power, but there are two more in the house all ready to go. Despite my lack of internet, I’m still sitting here typing away on my laptop.

You know, I think that I’m pretty lucky. Because, when you look at your life in the big, world picture, you come to realize that every frustration and setback is nothing when compared with the suffering of others. So instead of mourning my lost study time, I’m going to shut this computer off, get into bed, pray for the people of Haiti, and thank God that all I have to worry about is a low cellphone battery.

It’s really not so bad being powerless.

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Off The Grid

I know that this post is bit out of the norm for me, but may I rant for just a little moment? The other night I was listening to NPR (a mistake, perhaps, but I’m not perfect). I’m not sure what program I was listening to- I didn’t leave it on long enough to find out.

The program was a young man and his family talking about how difficult their lives were. All well and good; I’m sympathetic to a sad story. The young man was telling about how he couldn’t get into the prestigious college he wanted to attend, and how he couldn’t get financial aid for the few schools he was able to get into. His mother discussed the difficulty she had in her job- finding her place, getting promotions, etc. What horrible twist of fate could be preventing these poor people from realizing their American dream?

Well, they are undocumented.

Wait a moment. Let that sink in.

….

….

Undocumented.

They are not supposed to be in this country. There is no paper trail. They are not American citizens. They are not citizens of this country. For years they have avoided our government’s notice.

Now, they are on national radio talking about how difficult their life is because of their undocumentation.

Really.

Hmmm.

Why are we fighting for the rights of people who never declared their citizenship? More importantly, what right do these people have to complain that our universities ask for green cards, or that our government won’t allow them to receive free money without proof of residency or citizenship? Why are we expected to change the rules to make their lives easier, their jobs more pleasurable?

Would any other government stand for this behaviour? If I surreptitiously sneak into England, would they allow me into any college and then give me money to attend? I’m thinking not.

Why, then, is anyone promoting the idea that no matter who waltzes into the country we will hand them an education and pay for it as well.

Or maybe, why not? We are trying to give them free health care, benefits, basically anything they could ever wish for- whether we know they are here or not. Who pays for this? The people who are residents of this country; the people who by family lineage, birth right, or naturalization have earned the right to live in America. Those people who work hard in order to pay taxes left, right, and center for education, benefits, cars, and houses.

I’m not normally a “rah-rah, go America” type of person, and this post really isn’t about American citizenship per se. It’s about the nature of citizenship itself. We need clear definitions of where we belong geographically to keep order in this world. I’m sure that there is a wonderful reason for citizenship to even exist- for some reason (or maybe many reasons), it wouldn’t be good for people not to belong to a country. However, the media attention undocumented people are receiving lately makes me wonder if life would be easier if we all just went off the grid.

Oh yes, that’s right.

It’s a bad idea.

It would limit my choice of colleges.

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