Released 18 January 2010
It’s midnight and beyond, yet
I can’t tear myself away from the television as the haunting images from Haiti flicker
across the screen. I’ve seen the same
ten-year-old girl pulled from the rubble every hour, yet still I sit and watch,
horrified and heartbroken. It’s too
much, yet I can’t turn it off.
Anderson Cooper, the intrepid CNN reporter of disaster, spoke of his work
"The thing that's difficult about this is that the camera lens is too
small to capture what is really happening here. It's too small to capture the scale, the size, the horror of what's
happening here. It's a very tiny little camera lens, and no matter where you
point it something is happening."
magnitude is beyond belief, yet over time it is the stories, one by one, that
touch and break our hearts. The hotel
owner, pulled from the rubble days after the quake hit. The college kids on a mission trip, a dozen
now safe while four are still missing. The
head of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, killed by the quake’s
destruction. The birth of a new baby surrounded
by the rubble of a decimated orphanage. Stories of heroism and sacrifice, of hope in the midst of horror.
In searching the web, I ran across a video entitled, “Has
the World Failed Haiti?” Set amidst
reports of search and rescue teams en route from the UK,
Taiwan and Venezuela, I
had to shake my head and wonder what more “the world” could be doing. Haiti’s
airport has one runway, the docks have been badly damaged, and the logistics of
getting help to this Caribbean island are
mind-boggling. Yet the transport planes
are landing hour after hour, and people from around the world are opening their
hearts and their wallets to the people of Haiti.
relief workers are coming to an impoverished country with an infrastructure
that was crumbling long before the earthquake. I know some of the people working within The Salvation Army who are on
the ground now in Haiti,
and they are only a handful of thousands of people who have come, often at
their own expense and safety, to help a people they have never met. While it is easy to criticize what appears to
be a slow response in the midst of so much suffering, I am staggered by the
overwhelming response given the extreme barriers to providing aid. Let’s be
realistic here – preparation for disaster relief work can only go so far –
natural disasters don’t get on the calendar or map a year in advance.
that’s what so amazing about what happens in the face of a disaster. Katrina. Hurricane Andrew. The Boxing Day
Tsunami. 9-11. A house fire down the block. In each instance, strangers immediately come
to the aid of their brothers and sisters around the world and across the street,
doing whatever they can to respond with compassion.
recently watched the film Lars and the Real Girl with a group of friends. As Bianca is dying, women from the church come
to the home and are in the living room, knitting. Sally tells Lars, “W came over to sit.” Hazel adds, “That’s what people do when
tragedy strikes.” Then Sally again:
“They come over, and sit. That’s what
people do. They sit.”
some are able to travel to Haiti to distribute food and water or to provide medical care as my doctor friend
Cindy-Lou is doing, most of us are unable to do that. Some may be able to open their homes to
Haitian orphans or refugees, but most of us are unable to do that. We can give money to support the relief
efforts, and many of us will do that. But
beyond that, we can sit with the people of Haiti. We watch CNN for hours. We knit and pray. We weep for the people of Haiti. We allow the images of suffering and hope to
be seared into our memories. Because
that’s what people do when tragedy strikes.