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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

on Haiti, and other stories

Like many, I suspect, I feel I should say something about Haiti but feel inadequate expressing it.  I feel inadequate not merely because of the enormity of it, but because in a globalised world so many of the things that happen become stuff of stories rather than reality.  Can I comprehend the number of dead, littering the streets and graveyards, rotting where they lie?  Can I comprehend that each is an individual life, like mine, extinguished?  That now that which was a person lies as carrion for the scavenging birds?

I have to tell it to myself time and again; I have to keep on reading each report; I have to go over it in my mind until it becomes more than just a story. I confess sadly that I am not very familiar with Haiti, aside from knowing its existence.  My most common encounter is merely with the mysterious 'Haitian' in sci-fi drama Heroes.  Huh. Yet another story.  Which brings me to wonder if we are so used to seeing tragedy and violence dramatised that we cluster the make-believe and the real altogether into one distant lump.

By no means is my post title meant to be flippant.  It is my way of reminding myself how easy it is subconsciously, unwittingly, to consign truth to fiction.  I want to make myself conscious of the fact, and seek out a remedy.

Haiti - already wrapped in poverty, is ill equipped to deal with the disaster - without the structure or the resources to effectively manage the recovery.  One can only hope that the promises of the world are kept.  Let's be real here and truly confess - when this sort of thing happens outside of our 'world' - and by that I mean the world we are used to - it feels more distant than if it had happened in our 'zone'.  In some ways this is inevitable, like the fact that the closer to home something is the more it affects us.  But that isn't just what I'm talking about here.  Others have said it better than I can.  In his post on this subject, Alan Wilson says: 'A disaster like this exposes, in a gut wrenching way, something we live with surprisingly easily as long it’s kept in its place on the back burner — the impact of inequality in the world.'

Will this become a mere hiccup in the consciousness of the Western World?  Such vast suffering just another story?  Will we forget?  Or will we remember?  And how do we respond?

Image from BBC website

3 comments:

Elizabethd said...

We should never forget that immense human suffering, however we choose to respond. The news photos and coverage is heartbreaking.

Peterson Family said...

I can not even imagine the suffering and pain of the people in Haiti right now. It breaks my heart.

Thank you for sharing my SITS day with me and giving me a pause to think about the things that matter so much!

Kriste said...

Today an aftershock hit them. I just feel so bad for them. They are an amazing people. Seeing them praising God and singing songs in the streets even while they have no clean water and lack food and medical care.

"The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people."- Richard Foster