Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thoughts on a small island nation

I know I am not the only one out there who is talking about the tragedy in Haiti. The enormity of what has happened in the capital of that little country will likely takes weeks or months to add up. While I am heartened by the rush to help by nations all over the globe, the logistics caused by earthquake damage is going to make getting help in time for people hanging on to life by a thread quite difficult. It will likely get worse there before it gets better, and there is no one to blame.

People as the same questions every time there is a tragedy like this. Questions like "Where was God in this?", "Why didn't he stop this from happening", "Does He even care?" Those are tough questions with no easy answer. These kinds of events have been happening for countless centuries, the only difference today is we find out about it almost immediately, thanks to modern technology, and we can often bring assistance to areas and people in peril much quicker. Both are wonderful things, but both also have a downside.

The downside is we make the assumption that because we have faster transportation, better medical technology, improved methods of moving and implementing goods and services then in years past then the scope of the aftermath can be minimalized. It is quite frustrating to see images of collapsed buildings and bodies lying in the streets and wonder why it is taking so long to do something. The reality is, just because we can see news feeds within minutes of a tragedy, it doesn't mean we can get people in to fix things within a few hours. Especially when the infrastructure of a city was essentially turned into rubble.

What I find even sadder is a small group of people who use the media for political, or personal agendas. These people, who for some reason have been given microphones and free reign to airways, have said some things that demonstrate no compassion, or suggestions on how to help. Instead they have chosen to make political or religious hay. That "hay" has no relevance or use in the situation of Haiti, and only serves to bring attention to themselves.

Former president Bill Clinton said the following in partial response to one of the political hay makers. Clinton said a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti "reminds us of our common humanity. It reminds us of needs that go beyond fleeting disagreements." He said political debate is healthy in normal times, but it would be perverse in a time of disaster to let politics get in the way of helping. (Washington Post)

I completely agree with Mr. Clinton. Now is the time to set aside foolish things and deal with the task at hand, helping our neighbor. I don't know the reason why this tragedy happened. I can't imagine the suffering the residents of Port-Au-Prince are enduring, and I mourn for their losses and the fact that the end is not yet in sight for them. I will not be the only one who wishes they could be there physically to shelter and give a home to a child who has lost their parents, or to hand out food or water, or even to remove rubble from a street. God speed to those who are given that privilege. I can do something else. Give to the relief agencies focusing on Haiti, and pray for things to improve sooner then expected.

 I think that dwelling on the why this happened is moot, and a waste of effort for now. Instead the questions should be along the lines of "how" and "what". "How can we help and what do you need to make that  help happen." should be the questions of the day. We can debate the why's later.

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