Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti - Tragedy, Inadequacy and yet...?

The devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday  was possibly the worst earthquake in living memory as regards deaths injuries and damage. 

The  consequential plight of the citizens of Port au Prince and elsewhere in that country makes any minor setbacks in personal life pale into insignificance. I feel  senses of inadequacy and frustration  about the  inability  to assist very much at least alone; another reminder that no one is that important that he or she can change the world without  wider support from the community. However even the wider community's response so far seems quite inadequate for alleviating the profound suffering and grief being experienced there. Thus the USA which is still the only real super-power in the world after the demise of the USSR has yet  according to the BBC and other media reports to make a real impact for the people directly afflicted. There is often  said to be a 3 day window for rescue after a major earthquake but that time has passed and Haitians are still bereft of heavy lifting equipment and practical means of organising and distributing  the much needed aid.

That the USA or any other Nation is being 'blamed' in some quarters should however in my view be interpreted as praise for their generosity. No one is blaming al quaeda for not trying to  help speedily enough or at all as  sadly no one in their heart of hearts really expects compassion from such quarter .  The  presence of Americans and others  in the relief efforts   helping those of another state,  is in my view, a mark of generosity and spirit that tends to distinguish mankind from animals. Having said that well before the earthquake struck there were rumours of Americans facilitating the exiling of previous Haitian President Aristide  to South Africa and of course the whole nation had its origins in the  iniquitous slave trade. Nonetheless that   those from the USA, Russian, South Americans, French,  Chinese and even a few British fire fighters are all working there too, setting aside  their international differences in so doing, I interpret as a silver lining in this hideously dark cloud. Those international differences appear trivial in the face of  the common  human concern and sympathy for the plight of fellow humans - that plight transcends petty politics.

Haitians are I understand  are largely Catholic Christian people. The shattering of life, limb, home and office by so profound a natural disaster might test the belief in the loving God, of anyone living there yet I have heard on TV news reports people giving thanks to God for their survival rather than blaming God for letting such tragedies occur. The deaths of  their Archbishop and UN leaders  alongside their infants, brothers and sisters and the toppling of the Presidential palace and slums alike by the force of the shock, do illustrate that this is a community wide natural  disaster  caused by the laws of geophysics and not by the wrath of God. The love  of God however is even as I type, surely already  making itself manifest in the  combined and accelerating struggles of strangers and foreigners to alleviate the pain of the locals. 

Death now may yet give way to renewal in the years to come. By all accounts there was much awry with Haiti's governance for years prior to the earthquakes. Maybe the renewal spurred on by international cooperation will facilitate the healing of the pains caused by that ongoing  man made   disaster as well as those from  the geophysical.

 Exiled Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide has announced that he is ready to return home to help rebuild his earthquake-shattered country. Who knows this erstwhile president even if not approved of by America's CIA at the time may prove to be a catalyst for the nation's re-birth.

1 comment:

  1. Good that £23m was raised in the UK as quickly as 18th January 2010 but not good that physical help for the sufferers on ground seems to require so much more more than money to make a difference, at least early on.


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