Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Hearts Go Out To Haiti

The scene in Haiti is horrific.

What Haiti is experiencing right now is so enormous in scale that our strongest descriptive words like horrific and insurmountable and tragedy and incomprehensible – seem meager and unqualified to describe it.

Like the recent catastrophe in China was. As was the catastrophe in Pakistan.

But the plates that comprise our planet earth are held together by only their sheer weight and the gravity of the earth spinning on its axis.

When a poor population has to make shelters and structures, they do not have the luxury of using state of the art engineering principles to survive the incredible force of a quaking earth.

Haiti just fought off two hurricanes – those structures withstood them.

The 7.0 earthquake's epicenter was only 25 kilometers away from the Port-au-Prince.

Cement structures crumbled and fell down on top of those who occupy them. With in an instant a huge portion of the population were expired. It will be sometime until we find out how many.

The majority of the remaining population is now homeless, without shelter or facilities or services.

The structures fall down and cover the roads the roads impeding the ability to get into the most densely destroyed area.

Earthquakes don't kill people – poorly constructed structures that crumble in earthquakes kill people.

Such an overwhelming catastrophe.

And as typically happens – humankind shows its best side.

I'm impressed with how hard the Americans are trying to help.

I'm impressed with how quickly the U.N forces pulled together to jump right in to do … something.

My God, where do you start?

I am impressed with the Haitian people who managed not to be crushed immediately getting to work to find those that were.

Impressed is not a grand enough term.

Right now it's a horrific exercise in rubble removal to look for survivors – and the sorrowful task of recovering the bodies. And the insurmountably urgent task of determining what to do with those bodies. Bodies of fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and friends and loved ones – not just bodies – but the bodies of those that you love.

The heartbreak.

Tons and tons of debris must be removed to find those trapped underneath. But how do you move such mass quickly? Where do you put it after you remove it? How do you get machinery in there to move it? And how do you move it so gently as to not crush anyone who might somehow still be alive in there?

But also - as such tragedies unfold – you not only see the greatness of the human spirit, but also the despicable.

The looting has started. Chaos is looming like a finely balanced tight rope walker on a windy day. The dark side of humankind arises as well.

It's not constrained to only the Haitian's. The worst comes from the lands looking on.

The "elite" news journalists covering this event, and then I only mean the elite faces – who are taking this opportunity to be videoed holding the hand of a screaming boy in agony because his body is crushed and his parents are killed – only to add this to their portfolio of events covered to qualify for the elite status of journalists – then off to the next opportunity for advantageous video.

The Katie Courics and the Cooper Andersons. They should be banned from ever going such places. They add no further insight by their presence.

Ego. The side of the fifth estate that is journalism that I despise.

Then there are the political winds that swirl up from such catastrophes are as well despicable. Pat Robertson – the evangelist politico wannabe inferring the Haitians deserve this tragedy as their payment to a deal made with the devil. Or Rush Limbaugh declaring the democratic right and specifically Obama – using this event for political positioning.

If there was ever a pot calling a kettle black …

No help – just political posturing. Yes, I believe Robertson is more a political opportunist than a man of the holy word. The proof spews out in his words of contempt.

As well, we now must also be aware of the scammers trying to fool the rest of the world into giving money to phony aid programs.

But why is such a place as Haiti – so geographically positioned and so culturally rich – so poverty stricken to begin with?

History unveils the facts that Haiti's poverty is the result of the French forcing the re-payment of 70 million francs - a bill that in today's dollars would have been over twenty one billion dollars – as the remaining debt owed by Haitian freed slaves after succeeding in their battle for independence. The same era of time during the years of America's Deal with the French for the Louisiana Purchase.

In those days – Haiti was an incredibly rich and profitable nation as a shipping hub and exporter of tropical goods. But the high price of this bill allowed little left over to build a proper infrastructure. This problem further accentuated by multiple reigns of ruthless and greedy dictators – scraping the profits remaining to build palaces and fund their extravagant lifestyles.

But that is history. Those people are no longer around to blame or to hold accountable.

The task ahead of Haiti is enormous. They cannot solve this problem alone. They need to world to help.

What can we do?

What can we – people like me – people most likely like you – the common person in the landscape of the world – do?

We can give money.

We can't go to Haiti and start removing rubble. We can't go to Haiti and start performing medical aid. We can't go to Haiti and cook meals in person. We can't go there to physically assist in this disaster.

We would be in the way.

So we can give money.

As you sit this moment and read my words on your monitor or LCD screen or cell phone – please think about how incredibly lucky that you are that you are not going through this horrific tragedy. And think about how you would feel if it was you, or someone you loved deeply, trapped under rubble still – alive or dead – and how helpless you would feel not being able to do anything.

Then do something.

Do what you can do.

Send money.

Send a thousand dollars, or a hundred dollars, or ten dollars.

Anything will help.

Please visit http://www.redcross.org/ today and determine how best you can assist.

My biggest regret in writing this post is that I wrote it five days too late.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The truth is that they did make a pact with the devil.

Now the significance you put on that pact I guess has to do with whether you believe the devil is real or not.

But it is one of Haiti's founding myths.

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/small_axe/v009/9.2laroche.html

According to Haitian national history, the revolutionary war was launched on the eve of a religious ceremony at a place in the north called Bwa Kayiman (Bois Caiman, in French). At that ceremony on August 14, 1791, an African slave named Boukman sacrificed a pig, and both Kongo and Creole spirits descended to possess the bodies of the participants, encouraging them and fortifying them for the upcoming revolutionary war. Despite deep ambivalence on the part of intellectuals, Catholics, and the moneyed classes, Vodou has always been linked with militarism and the war of independence and, through it, the pride of national sovereignty.

So, yeah if there is a devil, Haiti made a pact with it. Might explain why even though Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island, the Dominican Republic has been far more successful.

Fred Brill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Brill said...

Anonymous - thanks for adding the excellent additional detail - good insights indeed!

Anonymous said...

Pat RobertSON not Pat Roberts. They are two different people.

Fred Brill said...

Yes, you are correct - My appologies, I did confuse the honorable Senator from Kansas with the Television Evangalist.

My apologies to the honorable Senator - while I am certain this happens to him all the time, I can appreciate being very sensative to the mistake.

Now had I finished Journalism school ...

- Please contact the Red Cross today and offer any support you can.

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