This morning, I got up as usual, dressed for a run, took our dog out to do her business, and headed over to our community workout room. Once there, I tuned the TV to CNN to find out what’s going on in the world. For 45 minutes, I watched with increasing sadness a breaking news story about the earthquake in Haiti.
The news anchors threw out statistics like “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” and “the average salary ranges from $650 to $1,300 annually.”
They showed clips of rescue workers standing by to get clearance to fly into the country to use their sophisticated equipment to detect life signs and blast through the boulders covering thousands of people. They ended with a shot of a German Shepherd sitting in full alert, waiting to help. How many people will still be alive once that rescue team gets to them?
The reporters continued to talk about how poor countries like Haiti have such poor infrastructure that it makes the rescue efforts all the more difficult. Of course, the people who suffer day to day would be the ones to suffer the most during a natural disaster. Oh, the unfairness of it all. It brought me back to the book “Stones into Schools” and the vivid descriptions of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. 86,000 dead. Many of them children. Many of them poor. And the event didn’t even register on my radar when it happened.
This time would be different, I decided. The problem is, once you break out of your desensitization, you start to feel really strong emotions. Unpleasant emotions. By the time I was done with my run and had moved on to stretching on the floor, I started fully to absorb the devastation and the sadness of it all. Silent tears started flowing down my cheeks as I mourned the cruelty of it all and the pain that the Haitians are going through.
Right this moment, there are parents digging in the rubble with their bare hands, trying to reach their buried children. Meanwhile, I am sitting here in my cozy apartment, eating steelcut oats by candlelight, and feeling so thankful for what I have, but also so sad for those who have nothing. And what can I do to help? Send a check to the Red Cross? Yes, that will likely happen. However, we need to be proactive as well. We need to end poverty and empower people in risk zones to construct buildings that will withstand natural disaster (as much as possible).
It’s all tied together. Poverty leads to unnecessary human suffering and death in many different ways. Today, we witness another example of this.