I tried not to write about Haiti this week, but doing anything else seemed profane. I have seen that our response to Haiti is intense and obvious, perhaps more so than the Tsunami in 2004. It has been suggested by some, that this may be because Haiti is at our door step. Generally, the message is one of us Americans, a great philanthropic country, leading the humanitarian effort - and we are, as we always have.
However, I think if we examine the situation a little more carefully, we may conclude that while we can clothe or feed those stricken in Haiti, they may return to us something of far greater value – for it may be Haiti that truly is the richer country. Apparently through their long suffering, they have stored a great deal of wealth, which not even the worst of natural disasters could take away – literally the ground shook – and what little they had in this world was taken from them in an instant, it destroyed great buildings, and yet the people were unshaken, in fact rising above all of it – as the images clearly show.
Conversely, nothing as dramatic was required to usurp a great deal of wealth (of a different variety) from many Americans which we had so carefully stored up; it only required a few percentage points gain in default rates of collateralized debt obligations that sparked a panic in the derivatives market – an event so finite, and irrelevant to everything that really matters in life, that we can find no image of it at all.
I hope we think of our brothers and sisters in Haiti in all the dignity and light that they are created in, and that our media does not digress “only” to images of desperation – those images may have a role to play if they inspire giving and aid, but we ought not confuse them as a proper reflection of the people of Haiti.
Children should be playing with pillow houses and not trapped in concrete ones. How could so many defenseless and innocent people be left at such tremendous risk to the natural environment in the modern world? Surely this is a problem many years in the making – as poverty usually is. Alongside tragedy though, a miracle has also taken place, one that has deep meaning to all of us, if only we can see it.
This article is part 2 of a 2.