27 January 2010

Why we need to help Haiti

The disaster is Haiti has elicited all kinds of response from outpouring of donations and support to moronic drivel such as (actual quotes, with spelling and grammar mistakes left in):

“HELP Hiati!!!!! What about helping Americans who have lost everything due to the poor economy?”

“Why should we help the people of Haiti. All they want is America to help them. They are nasty, lazy people who dell in evil and voodoo. God didn’t like there nasty ways and all the evil and voodoo they perform in the world.”

It is a sad commentary on our society that ignorant people choose to display their stupidity and ignorance so openly. Before you open your mouth and insert your foot you might want to do a little research and try using that brain of yours. Most things are not as black and white as you think they are.

To blame all their problems on corruption is easy and fits into a nice little box most simpletons can comprehend. Is there corruption in Haiti? Yes. Is there corruption in the United States? Yes, and I would argue that corruption in the United States is more pervasive and overt.

To claim some stupid notion that voodoo had something to do with it just reinforces how small minded you really are. Facts cited by other comments show that Haiti is a very Christian nation. There are many Catholic, Episcopal, and Baptist groups from cities across the United States that sponsor churches, schools, and orphanages in Haiti. The fact that Haiti retains some of its history and voodoo culture in no way means that god is cursing them - it enriches their own culture.

Haiti is a victim of history. Part of that history involves the United States and mistakes our country has made in Haiti. Ever hear of the Iowa pigs that our country tried to bring to Haiti because we thought that the native pigs were bad? Well, that was a stupid idea – the Iowa pigs could not acclimate and died – there was never anything wrong with Haitian pigs. Our policies impact countries like Haiti. For example, you can buy imported rice cheaper than locally grown rice.

Whatever our own situation may be (and it is bad, I do not discount that) we have a duty to help Haiti. Whether you like it or not, we should be willing to help our neighbor. A superpower’s power is not dictated by how many missiles or guns one has, but the ability to have compassion and to mobilize and help those most in need. Any idiot can make war. It takes a smart person to build something productive and positive. Would you rather have a country known for destroying things or one known for lending a helping hand in crisis? I prefer the later.

I have been to Haiti several times over the last year and a half. The last time I was in Haiti (November 2009) I thought that some improvements had been made. The roads were in better condition. The people seemed to me to be more optimistic. There was a peaceful transition of government. Some debt had just been forgiven. I think Haiti was really getting it and moving forward; small steps, but steps in the right direction. This earthquake has really set them back. I am very sad for the country and I will be doing whatever I can to help them get back on track.

It is easy to discount Haiti. When I was traveling back one time, a security bag checker saw my biography of Einstein I had been reading. He said that he was a physics student at University and loved Einstein. I gave him the book figuring that he might be inspired by Einstein. The sad thing is that there are many stories like that in Haiti; smart young people with education but no outlet for that education because the opportunities are not there. They want to succeed. We need to give them the opportunity to do so.

My wife has a theory: Somewhere in some village in some developing country is a child that may end up finding the cure to cancer or unlocking the mysteries of the universe or making some other awesome discovery. We should be striving to help people in need and not turning our backs because it may be inconvenient for us.

1 comment:

SpangledAngel said...

Do you have an email address?

mine is spangledangel@gmail.com, I'd like to ask a question (unrelated to Haiti, although I LOVED this piece. :)