Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Trouble in Haiti?? WOW! I'm SHOCKED!!!

Ever since the earthquake took place last Tuesday, people have been declaring shock and horror over the devastation that has been experienced and is still being experienced by the people of that battered and torn country.

What stays with me is the shock and awe in the voices of the speakers. Why? Because just as it has been declared that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, the same can most definitely be said about out ‘bastard’ sister Haiti.

My words may sound harsh, but hear me out…

Haiti is basically the ‘outside chile’ of the Caribbean that we all forget about until there is an appropriate photo-op. We all behave as if Haiti does not exist until the next ‘official’ disaster.

I have been exposed to the horrors of daily life in Haiti since my teen years when one of our priests, Fr John ‘T’, or Fr Haiti as he is affectionately known, set up a slide show at our Parish during a youth retreat, to show us how luck and privileged we were to live the lives we did and do in Trinidad. That was over 25 years ago, and even then, the horrors were not new. Yet, we persist in acting surprised each time Haiti’s rumblings erupt into something that can no longer be contained out of our consciousness.

I recall the sentimentality and verve of my youth, when I collected clothing and cans for my fellow Caribbean peoples, hoping that this time would be the time when peace and order would be restored.

Forgive my now jaded adult existence, and I’m usually warm, fuzzy and sympathetic, but I too have fallen prey to the images that have been coming out of Haiti over the past few years – images of a people who can’t even get along with each other long enough to make a change and make it work … a people so taken over by loathing – of self (country) and others that they despise the very offers of aid, and yet they complain that the world has forgotten them.

Common images of the Haitian experience - the children, the palace, the voodoo ...

Haiti should have been the Caribbean nation that we all looked up to. This is a country that was independent and ruled by a black man in the 1800’s, back when many a black man was indeed still a slave on this side of the pond. Instead, it has become the poster child for the old adage ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. This was brought home to me in living colour the other afternoon while I looked at the ‘disaster’ coverage and was yet again appalled to see cutlass (machete) wielding men and women running the streets of Port au Prince in an attempt to loot foodstuff from supermarkets, all the while threatening the lives of those who were unarmed, and who might have gotten there before them.

As a country you are devastated … you infrastructure is shot … foreign aid is having a hell of a time getting to you. Many of you are unsure as to the life status of your family members, yet you find the time to fight and kill each other over a can of soup? Pardon my naïveté but this sort of thing doesn’t exactly endear me to the cause, yet I will press on.

Tuesday’s Newsday (newspaper) greeted me with the sight of a looter being dragged naked through the streets – a rope around his ankles while being bludgeoned by a bystander using a block of wood. Why???

Last weekend we were all up in arms when Pat Robertson of the American evangelical Bible-belt declared that the problems that seem to be a recurring decimal in Haiti occurred because the nation had made a pact with the devil to get out from under colonial rule.

So Pat Robertson is really not my favorite person, and yes, we all gasped and mouthed the words ‘HOW DARE HE’, while we pumped our fists in righteous indignation, but believe you me, I KNOW we all in the back of our psyches did some quick math and wondered …

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that a pact was made with the devil, but I would sadly acknowledge that a country that has been known for centuries as the Seat of Voodoo and Black Magic in the Caribbean – well … one wonders…

Please do not misunderstand me – far be it for me to sit in judgment over anyone, particularly since it would appear that the ‘younger generation’ of my own island republic seems to have lost their patience, so much so that I feel like I live in the Wild, Wild West! What I am saying is that the attitudes and behavior of a nation can sometimes make it a tad difficult for onlookers to be sympathetic.

My own opinion is that the key to saving what is left of Haiti is to save the little ones, and that seems to be the way that most of the international agencies are going. No, I am not saying that the adults need to be left behind to die. I am saying that the up and coming generation can still be molded into loving supportive people, who see each other in a way that allows for dialogue, good will and support in times of peace, and conflict.

So I believe in fairy tales – so what???! But if we don’t save the little ones, what is going to happen? Are we doomed to see repeat after repeat of the same ill-made horror movie until we get it right?

Someone in their own wisdom said to me that destruction is a means of ensuring change … I have lost count as to what number ‘do over’ this is for Haiti, but I feel that THIS is the one that NEEDS to be taken seriously.

Having said all that I just have, and in the face of an after-shock this morning of a magnitude of 6.0, I ask still for your continued prayers and support – monetarily and otherwise – for the people of Haiti. They are for a fact out brothers and sisters. They are a part of the Caribbean and an integral part of our diasporic experience.

Do what you can and then … do some more!


1 comment:

Reggie said...

I can see that you poured your heart out when you wrote this.

We all seem to react to things like this differently, I can understand and feel your frustration coming off of my laptops screen...I feel you.

But I really feel for those people there that are struggling to survive in the midst of devastation, frustration, madness, death and stupidity. It is what it is; and I wish those people the very best. I just hope that the few pieces of silver that I sent find their way to a needy family or someone in need.