Monday, January 18, 2010


Do I care too little, or too much?
Hard to say. When events like the 7.0 earthquake that leveled Haiti occur, I have to admit my first few thoughts are not at all charitable. In fact, they're downright ugly.
Here we go. At least a week of nonstop 24/7 YOU ARE THERE!!! coverage. Interviews with people called "survivors", some of them before the "survivors" are actually out of danger. Constant appeals for help, because the abject poverty these people lived in before wasn't worthy of notice. These people only become deserving of our help when their hovels are crushed. Equally constant reminders of the donations of this and that celebrity. Madonna gave $250,000! Wow! Wow-wee!
It's sickening, I think. And then I think it's sickening that I think that.

But it bothers me. The whole situation and everything about it bothers me. I want to run away from it but it's taken over every newscast, endless pages of newsprint, to the point where it's drowned out every other story. This is, of course, perfectly understandable--it was a natural disaster, after all. Yet Haiti was a man-made disaster for a great many years before that natural disaster struck, and be honest, how often did the thought of Haiti ever cross you mind? I know it was never in mine. I was too busy living my humdrum little life in my humdrum little house that would fit six or seven Haitian families in it.
Everyone's giving. There's a veritable orgy of giving going on, which is heartwarming and all that. Less heartwarming are the people (again, mostly celebrities) that feel the need to broadcast that they're giving and exactly how much they're giving. And I'm not sure what message Madonna the billionaire is trying to convey with her chump change donation, are you?

What's happening in Haiti now? It's descending even further into despair and madness. Riots. Looting. Random gunfire. Tens, hundreds of millions of dollars raised and how much of it is getting through to the people on the ground? And if we (the collective "we", out here in the non-earthquake- shattered world) raised another hundred million dollars by next week, would that get through?

Oh, it's depressing, this Haiti business. It throws our comparative affluence into sharp, sharp relief. Here we are, struggling to climb out of what's referred to as the worst recession since the '30s (and make no mistake, the walls are going to get mighty slippery this year)...and yet we've raised untold sums of money to help people so much worse off than we are. It speaks well of us that we've done this, but it speaks ill of us that it took an earthquake...

1 comment:

Rocketstar said...

“because the abject poverty these people lived in before wasn't worthy of notice.”
-- That’s what gets me as well. I am giving some money to the Red Cross today because they need it, what a horrible situation. I have to stop watching the coverage because it chokes me up too much. But it bugs me that we only care now. Well, there are millions of people on this globe EVERYDAy starving and living in abject poverty and I don’t give to them, why now? The good thing about the Red Cross is you can give to their general fund which helps everyone not just Haiti so that is what I am going to do.

What I don’t understand is how the Dominican Republic seems to be so far ahead of Haiti, is it just the gov that is the difference? Does Haiti have horrible beaches and the DR has beautiful beaches?

It is tough to hear of all the money being given but not much reaching those in need. Even after a week cities outside of Port au Prince have yet to see any help. The western world has the richest poor in the world. Maybe we need a new word(s) to stratify the word ‘poor’.