Saturday, March 12, 2011

White flag - Surrender or SOS?


Like everyone else the past couple of days, I have been transfixed with the coverage of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan.

Since I couldn't watch any coverage before work (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse takes precedence), I hit up the CNN and FOX news websites during a little down time at the office.  Watching the videos was hard.  I was scared for the many people, and struck by how quickly and absolute some of the devastation is.  Complete homes gone.  Farmlands, cars, roads, and people.  Gone.  Many times I was left speechless.  Now the nuclear reactors blowing and threats of radiation.

One particular video I watched a couple of times.  For the life of me, I can't find it now.  I've searched for several hours but it seems to no longer exist as the news organizations update their websites with more recent photos.

Anyway, it was aerial shot of a residential area, and while most of the homes were either completely submerged or just roofs showing through the water, there was one home that was panned over by the camera revealing two persons in the upstairs windows waving white cloths outside.

I am a tad bit ashamed of my initial thought.  "Even in Japan, they know what the white flag means?"  And then the smarter half of my pea sized brain kicked in and I remembered that it is a universal sign. 

Wikepedia's definitionThe white flag is an internationally recognized protective sign of truce or ceasefire, and request for negotiation. It is also used to symbolize surrender, since it is often the weaker military party which requests negotiation. A white flag signifies to all that an approaching negotiator is unarmed, with an intent to surrender or a desire to communicate. Persons carrying or waving a white flag are not to be fired upon, nor are they allowed to open fire. The use of the flag to surrender is included in the Geneva Conventions.


The people in the home were certainly not surrendering, they were calling for help.  The irony struck me.  Surrender or Help?

I let my mind slip away from Japan for a few minutes and go to my own little world of chaos.  There are most certainly days where I want nothing more than to surrender.  Crawl into a hole and ignore everything and everyone around me.  And then there are days where I just want some help.  A sympathizer, a listening ear, a non-judgmental person with whom I can dump every piece of garbage on while I sink to the ground exhausted.  And then, a hand reaching for mine, helping me back on my feet, brushing off the dirt, straightening my clothes and walking the first next step with me.

I am a blessed person, because I have that in my life.  I am surrounded by people who, when I raise my white flag, are there in less than a heartbeat.  Whether it's a surrender day or an SOS day - my needs seem to get met.  I am lucky.  I am blessed beyond anything I have ever earned or deserve.

So then what?  What about all the others who don't?  Those who are metaphorically flying their white flag and no help arrives?  Who desperately need a day or a week or a month of surrender and then some help OR are in immediate assistance of aid?  Am I seeing the white flags?  Am I paying enough attention to others around me to be the one who jumps to their aid?  Am I someone who will gently hold another while they fall to the ground, listen to their cries, remain non-judgmental of their garbage and then reach forth my hand to help them to their feet, brush off the dust and walk the first step with them?  I. WANT. TO. BE.

And then what about those who NEED to raise their white flag?  If only for a second and let someone help?  Are we too proud to admit we have needs, weaknesses and flaws?  Are we so sure we can do it all on our own that we are depriving others of the blessings of service not to mention perhaps friendships that could last the eternities?

Some heavy food for thought. 

As for me, I will make sure I am more in tune to the needs of others.  I will remain alert and attentive to any "white flags"  I may see.  I will act on them.  I will also not be afraid to raise my own flag on those days that I just need a little SOS.

6 comments:

wendy said...

That was a great post Melissa. So true. I often like to think I can handle things on my own...then I remember how WEAK I am...and not only am I waving the white flag, but I am battering it.

and ...like YOU...there is nothing I like better then to Know I see someone elses white flag of help, and I WANT to be there. If only for a hug. I want to be there.
so important to look beyong ourselves....sometimes white flags are merely "fluttering" and you gotta look

tammy said...

I am the one that has a hard time asking for help. But sinking down and hiding? I'm good at that.

tiburon said...

I am the WORST at asking for help. The worst.

But you already know that...

These are some very heavy thoughts...

Sue said...

love this post. You know Im RS pres. in my ward. I was just saying to my counselor "I love those that aren't afraid to ask for help and tell you what they need. We don't always know.(we sometimes miss the white flag)

I wish when offering people help they would say "yes, thank you that would be great", instead of no, I don't need anything. (then complain)

So much could be said on this subject, but you said it all perfectly.

Missy said...

I need to keep my White Flag ready to wave at all times. It is hard to ask for help, it sometimes makes me feel like I have failed...

Japan is weighing heavy on my Heart!

Diaper Diva said...

I love this! We all need support and love, and I don't think any of us can go through out our life with out the help of others.