Sunday, February 7, 2010

Electricity -- With or Without a Blizzard

Some people I know in Maryland are without their electricity this weekend because of a blizzard. Unless they have one of the new ipads with a 10-hour battery (wait, ipads aren’t available until March), they are left, disconnected, in the dark. Being from snowy Colorado, I empathize with them. I have layered on sweaters and coats during the day, huddled under blankets at night (sometimes even WITH those sweaters still on!), read by candlelight, hoped my refrigerator contents didn’t spoil, and even relished a few days to slow down.

While it’s extremely rare in the United States, going without electricity is normal in Nigeria. There, people don’t know when the electric company will choose to turn on the power. Will they be able to have an x-ray today or wait until the tuberculosis has worsened before getting a prescription? Will they be able to iron their shirt before their job interview? Will they have light in the bathroom or will they shave in darkness again? You can bet that they don’t need light to get around.

Last month my friends in Jos were confined to their homes for 24 hours a day. They didn’t worry about their food spoiling, because most of them didn’t have anything extra. I bet they also didn’t take advantage of the time to do jigsaw puzzles by candlelight, catch up on their reading, and play games with their kids. No, their minds were soaked with fear and uncertainty about living through each day. They prayed, read their bibles fervently, sang praises to God, and slept with one eye open.

Fortunately, these crises don’t occur often. Well, that’s a matter of perspective. Are 1999, 2001, 2008, and 2009 regularly? A blizzard in America might come that frequently, but we’re equipped to handle it. The next time I’m homebound without electricity, I hope I remember to read the bible, sing praises as I stay safe and warm, and pray for those in the world who live in worse conditions on a daily basis.

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