Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti in ruins

If ever there were an event that brought a much needed reality check to us all, it was the earthquake earlier this month in Haiti.

Unless somebody has been living under a rock, we are all aware of the 7.0-magnitude quake that pretty much destroyed the entire country in a few minutes.

An impoverished country to begin with, the citizens there watched as what little they had was smashed into a million pieces. Tens of thousands are dead and the nation's infrastructure is pretty much gone.

An entire way of life has been brought to its knees, and there is no telling how many years it will take just to restore the country to the point it was a few weeks ago.

The level of carnage there is almost unimaginable. If we all closed our eyes and tried to visualize all the reports we have heard from there, the gears of our brain would probably grind to a halt. It is almost too much for our senses to handle.

If there has been a silver lining in this mess, it has been the reaction of the international community. Generosity has ruled the day in most instances, and this will be needed as Haiti looks at a long-term recovery effort.

The American government immediately pledged $100 million plus thousands of our military. Additionally, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were appointed to head a fundraising effort that is sure to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

Clinton and former President George H.W. Bush led a similar effort several years ago in the aftermath of the tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands in Asia. That fundraising effort raised approximately $1 billion, according to multiple published reports.

It is refreshing to see our nation put to the side all that things that separate us and come together when disasters like this happen. For all the petty bickering that we see in Washington, Democrats and Republicans alike have shown that it is possible for them to work hand in hand when needed.

It is too bad that we usually only see this when a disaster like this takes place. It would help our nation if we saw more unity like this under less dramatic circumstances. It would help ease a lot of the cynicism that we see. Unfortunately, I do not see that happening, which I guess exposes me as a cynic as well.

The American public deserves a lot of credit for its support of the Haitian people. Times are tough for a lot of people because of the long economic slump we have experienced. Lots of people are not working and money is tight.

However, donations have flowed like rivers to organizations helping with the relief effort. A few dollars may not seem like much, but when millions of people donate that much, a whole lot of money can be raised in a relatively short amount of time.

This is a classic example of how all of us can have a positive impact on others needing help. Even if a person can only afford to donate a dollar, that dollar can buy water or food that will help get a person through an uncertain night.

Perhaps the biggest lie a person can be told is that he or she cannot make a difference. It leads to discouragement, and everybody loses when we allow that type of thought to guide our decisions. It prevents us from living the lives we are meant to live.

As for the Haitians, remember to pray for them. They have a long, hard road ahead of them.

No comments: