Sunday, November 9, 2008
Haitian (Fill in the Blank)
(Photo from Reuters)
Quick word association exercise: I name a national identity, and you tell me the first word that comes to mind. Ready?
Ingenuity? Capitalism? Freedom? Baseball? Apple Pie? Hot dogs? Water boarding?
Delight? Armenian? Coffee?
Dreams? Exotica? Gauguin?
Resolve? Empire? Tea? Chips?
Cuisine? Culture? Toast? Freedom Fries?
Cigars? Socialism? Music?
Wine? Cars? Passion?
Poverty? Disease? Hurricanes?
Yeah. Haiti. Out poor cousin (did they ask into this Western Hemisphere clan?).
And, now the La Promesse School has collapsed piling outrage upon despair. The death toll has risen to 93 as I write this, with 150 injured, and an unknown number missing – hardly a blip on an international conscience that can hardly raise its weary head for less than a thousand casualties. Hurricane, tsunamis, earthquakes, war, suicide bombings, famine – all have battered our sensibilities until we react to these “smaller” incidents with a numb stare.
Honey, let’s flip to “The Amazing Race”. The kids are in the room.
But, this tragedy must be measured by the impact to an already assaulted people, not by the body count. The Republic of Haiti has been visited by Mistress Iniquity since its birth-by-slave-rebellion, and foreign occupation, international interference, dictatorship, environmental destruction, and economic instability are just members of her posse.
This year alone, the country has been devastated by multiple hurricanes, tropical storms, and erosion-related floods. The people have weathered food riots, wrestling with an economy that lags behind the rest of the hemisphere, and most of the world. They have neither the resources nor the political will to enforce the building codes we take for granted.
Haitian parents labor all year to earn the necessary tuition to educate their children out of poverty. Now they stand vigil by the wreckage of the very institution upon which they built their hopes for the future, and they pray for a miracle. Local and International rescue teams (UN, Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross, US, French Martinique, and Canada) have responded, and yesterday, four children were pulled from the rubble - alive.
No one has been rescued since.