What’s the value of one voice? Especially when there are so many voices – too many voices – chattering about what’s right, wrong, black, white, or grey in our current system?

Perhaps the better question is: What happens if one voice is silenced? Does silence lead to preconceived notions that everything is OK or NOT OK?

The silence of voices coming out of Puerto Rico confirms that things are Not OK and hearing one phone call after days of silence brings much needed relief to families and friends waiting to hear how loved ones fared. One call out can make an immense difference.

We Got Word

Today, a group of friends received one text to let us know that one friend was OK, and had enough food and water to last the next two weeks before he can get a flight back to the mainland. That one text was a relief. It was the second communication after the one friend stranded on the island was somehow able to make one phone call a week ago from one hotel that agreed to let people line up to make calls out.  His one call was to a friend on the west coast with a list of a dozen phone numbers to start a chain of alerting all to his status.

In a cinematic world with more than its fair share of post-apocalyptic movies, we now have some sense of how close our modern world is to the apocalypse. One storm, followed by one more, has led to a power vacuum in Puerto Rico that would previously have been felt unrealistic. Without financial power or political power, poor Puerto Rico has now lost real power in terms of gas, electric and telecommunications. With one fell swoop, a bustling island was taken out of the first world to far too close to the third.

A modern life style is never to be taken for granted, yet it is so easily so. With a flick of a finger lights go in most houses in most states, but not now in PR.  With a twist of the wrist, gas flames arise to help cook meals, boil water, and warm homes with hot water furnaces, gas stoves, and gas fireplaces. Not so in PR.

So it turns out that even in these United States from Houston to Tampa to now San Juan and the US Virgin Islands, first world lifestyles are not guaranteed. In Florida and Texas, the Red Cross and other disaster relief organizations are still on the ground helping residents with the very long haul ahead of them. And yet attention must and does now shift to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, long before we’re ready to shift focus from other areas of need.

Political Failures

Sadly, political organizations on both sides of the aisle still continue to send out donation requests not for disaster relief, but for funding office runs.  Today Facebook had solicitations for $1 donations to a Trump/Pence campaign! Really? At a time when the secret service is stretched renting golf carts to cover the presidency and cabinet officers are being queried on their use of private jets?

And, it’s not just the red side of the aisle. Every quarter or end of the month, with more regularity than police officers giving out speeding tickets, the Dems are asking for donations to fund upcoming office runs.  Really? Could they not suspend these solicitations in lieu of donations to Houston and Puerto Rico?

If you are so inclined to donate to organizations dedicated to Puerto Rican relief as well as ongoing relief to FL and TX, here are some options:

·      Always The Red Cross. Disaster Relief knows no borders with the Red Cross. Go to: https://www.redcross.org/donate/disaster-relief and choose general disaster relief or specific to any area. If you are low on funds today, consider some donation when your next paycheck arrives before you pay your own power bills.

·      MoveOn.org. This is a left leaning political organization, but unlike the two major parties, they have stopped the typical political cause donation solicitations in deference to Pueto Rican relief.  Here’s the link: https://act.moveon.org/donate/hurricane-maria. You can donate as little as $5 or $10 and all credit card fees are waived.

·      PBS List of organizations. Every group from Save the Children to UNICEF and the Salavation Army are raising funds. One list worth checking out was published by PBS.org at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/can-help-hurricane-victims-puerto-rico/

In these times, it likely doesn’t matter which group you choose from Doctors without Borders to Catholic Relief Services. The key is to realize that help is needed now, and cash allows organizations to purchase needed supplies from water to water cleansing tablets, and this is a time to talk about putting money to work now. We can discuss tax reform, insurance reform, and donations to political campaigns in the many weeks ahead. For now, focus needs to be on disaster relief in at least four key U.S. areas — Houston, Florida, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.