Saturday, January 23, 2010


A woman cries amid devastation in Port-au-Prince

Witnesses described people crying for help amid the devastation. [Photo: Matt Marek/American Red Cross]

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On this early Saturday morning I couldn’t sleep. I woke up thinking about Haiti. I’ll bet a lot of people in our country did. How can you not? If you have seen any news lately, if you have read any newspaper or viewed news on the internet, you have seen it. Pictures of people crying, footage of children being pulled from fallen buildings, torn bodies piled up on the sides of streets, miracles and tragedies. You have heard the voices and seen the tears and blank stares of survivors, the brave doctors and regular citizens rushing to aid of others.

In a rare show of unity, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have banded together to solicit aid from citizens of the US and the world. There was an international concert last night along with a telethon, asking people to give whatever they can to help rebuild Haiti. Among the folks I saw perform were Kid Rock, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, Jennifer Hudson, Bono, Sting.

To me, this is America at its greatest. We do have the capacity to come together in times of need. I don’t know how much money has been donated to date, but I’ll bet it’s a lot. I can’t begin to imagine how many prayers have been offered up for Haiti. Countless. For many people this is a call to action. A cause. Something important to do.

Among several the bloggers I follow, Haiti is what has become their focus. There are many ideas for ways to collect money, on how to get food medicine and supplies to Haiti. There is a collective sense, I believe, that whenever this kind of tragedy strikes, whenever there is this kind of physical and psychological suffering, we feel that pain as well. We feel the need to help. That is a big part of what makes America great. That is what makes us human.

But, almost unbelievably, there are those who are using this terrible human event to further their own agenda. Crazy, isn’t it? Who hasn’t heard Pat Robertson’s rant from his 700 Club platform that this happened to Haiti because of a pact they made with the devil 200 years ago so they could get out from “under the heel” of the French? According to Pat Robertson, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” And, “Of course, ever since then they have been desperately poor.” So, that little kid who I saw being pulled from the rubble who lost ten of his family members is being punished by God for some pact they made with the devil (whoever “they” are) 200 years ago?! Not my God.

I’m not saying Pat Robertson is an idiot, but one HAS to wonder about his agenda. Is it to get people to buy into is vengeful, wrathful god? Is it to place fear into the hearts and minds of his listeners? Is it to clarify his purported stranglehold on “the truth”? Is it to solicit more donations?

Glen Beck, conservative talk show host, said that he has a problem with President Obama’s pledge of sending Haiti $100 million dollars. Mr. Beck feels strongly that that aid should be left to charitable organizations and that the US should only provide military for security. When I heard Mr. Obama’s pledge I was embarrassed by how small that seems. That is approximately the cost of keeping 100 soldiers in Afghanistan for one year. Aren’t we on the way to sending 30 or 40 thousand more troops into Afghanistan?

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh suggested that President Obama would use the tragedy to better his image with, “the light skinned and dark skinned black community in this country.” [?????] He suggested that aid to Haiti would allow President Obama to appear “humanitarian and compassionate.”

Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh’s agenda is obvious. They seem bent on getting people to see any and everything Barack Obama does as evil. Even a true no-brainer such as helping our neighbor in their time of deepest trouble and pain is a wrong-headed, unpatriotic, subversive plot to these guys. I don’t think they truly believe this in their hearts (for their sake, I hope I am right) but they are nothing if not true to their form. That’s not my patriotism.

When this kind of tragedy strikes, it brings out the best in our country and, unfortunately, the worst. It is my sincere hope that we take the high road and do EVERYTHING we can with the wonderful resources with which we have been blessed, to make a positive difference in the lives of the poor people in Haiti. We have so much to be thankful for. One way to show our gratitude is to be generous.

1 comment:

Brent and Kristen said...

More insight from the sleepless. 4:30 AM? How do you function? I so enjoy your wise words and the voice that comes through in your writing. I have become so bitter with the media over the last few years that I am sorry to say I watch virtually no news. It is so true that in time of crisis we see the best in people and the worst. I think back to Katrina and all of the looting and violence that took place there within our own "civilized" country. I think of the motives and opportunities that people have in times of crisis and so often they are not good. Like you said, political, self-promoting, or coercive motives always surface during times when people are looking for hope, guidance and help. I mean, look back to Hitler, "delivering" people from crisis! It is when we are at our lowest that we see our true strength, our resolve, our faith. A pastor preaching one day said something that has stuck with me. He said "So many say that God will not give us things that we cannot handle...but I say that he gives us things we cannot handle so that we turn to him and see his awesome power and glory" I feel that our faith and true character are challenged everyday to some degree. A sick mother, a surgical procedure, a long journey, financial stress, career choices, other people’s choices...the list goes on. When the stress and crisis hit home we are almost forced to react, even if our reaction is doing nothing. When crisis strikes the lives of others, how many of us choose not to react? To not even pray or think about those suffering? I find it harder and harder as I become more wise and closer to God to ignore that I am so blessed with abundance and that I have been given all I have so that I may give to others and to have the means to provide help to those who are needy. Not only material gifts, but the gifts I have been given within should be used to "make a difference", shouldn't they? Shouldn't we all use what we have to help a brother in need? I am so thankful for all of those individuals who are helping others in Haiti, and sad to say that I am part of a race of people, a population of beings who could be so selfish and cruel to use calamity for any way. They are as in need of saving as those in Haiti.