Jan 15, 2010

Haiti, Chaos, and Fading Memories

Haiti has become chaos layered with magnificent efforts to bring structure and organization there. Eventually, the chaos will subside. It will leave in its wake, bewilderment, confusion, and a deep, abiding sense of loss. But, it will not all be bad. For the first time in its history, the entire world is focused on this tiny little nation. Oh, there was great attention paid to it during the terrible coup years, when the government was in turmoil and the NATO forces were called in to help restore order. But, there was no real attention given to the needs of the nation, and the people. In that time, much aid was given, which had a strange way of disappearing. There was simply no accounting for the millions of dollars of goods and other aid that was brought into the country.

Now, it’s different (or so it is said).

Now, dozens of charitable organizations have focused in on the nation, and millions of dollars in aid from many countries have been promised. There will be more attention, this time, to how that aid is dispersed. There will be an insistence on an accounting (or so it is said). History will not be repeated (or so it is said).

There is a graphic, indelible image of the stark reality of the horror painted in the psyche of millions of television viewers, and of those reporters and others on the scene. For a short time, those images will be a driving force and will be of great benefit to Haitians.  But, it will fade. Memories recede into the recesses of the mind. Life at home will blend into its sameness, and Haiti will become a piece of history, a bad time that happened to someone else somewhere else, like it did in Indonesia in 2004, when a  tsunami rolled over its islands and people.

Sadly, in Haiti,  evil will raise its ugly head as time passes.

The government is in a weakened state. The police force is minimal. Gangs already roam the streets. They will grow stronger. Some will see opportunity in the riches that flood the land. Some will see opportunity to loot, some to work the system, and others will see opportunity to gain power.

One can’t say for sure how it’ll all play out. We can hope that the thugs and the gangs will be intimidated and go away. Doubtful. We can hope that some true statesmen will arise from the rubble and put their country ahead of their personal desire for gain and power. Doubtful. Will the government, notorious for its corruption, change for the better, now that there are millions of dollars and goods at their disposal? 

Perhaps an indicator of what is to come can be found in the angry words of one Haitian man: "Who is there to help us?" His words echoed the angry words of many others. These words display an ignorance that is widespread. He could not see the enormous efforts of strangers, could not see the generosity of tens of thousands of strangers who have sent money and aid, and could not see the inability to immediately solve the problems caused by the earthquake. He only saw the planes landing, and the loaded trucks, and the hundreds of strangers digging for survivors.

They just were not digging in his neighborhood.

They were digging for their own. They were searching for survivors from their own culture, co-workers,  teachers, and others who had been in Haiti to help the Haitian people, but got caught in the earthquake.

Surely, they should have known to have dug for possible survivors in his poor neighborhood, first.

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