We do not smell the fumes in the surf or see the dying birds on our shore. But like oil plumes hidden deep in the once crystalline oceans seeping into our awareness, we are made to see what we do not wish to see.
For the survivors it was the initial primeval instinct for life that shocked stopped hearts into beating. Haiti has had a massive coronary and, collectively damaged, is operating at a fraction of its normal output.
We never know how the new-found involvement of those we engage will play out in the rest of their lives, but if we inspire enough people to take those first steps in speaking out for justice we can sometimes transform history.
Now that this major victory has been won in Congress today, I realize that what I really had at the start of Obama's term was not hope, but optimism. Optimism is a luxury for those who can afford to lose. Hope inspires endurance.
I chose not to end my life, but rather chronicle my journey from darkness into light in a journal, which later became my book, The Last Day of My Life. I asked myself: what would I do if I have only 24 hours to live?
One night every year, volunteers walk thousands of miles on the grids of the city, Queen, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, and climb through the underworld of the subways lines to count the homeless.