Like the rest of you, my heart has been heavy in the past few days with the news of the disaster in Haiti. The immediate gut reaction of most has been, “We just have to help them”. And yes, we do . . . but I have not been able to shake a vague sense that there is something that “we” (particularly the United States) have been doing that left Haiti so vulnerable to such a disaster.
I already knew some of the history of how Haiti came to be. I also knew that the country has struggled mightily ever since. And while my local “Christian” radio station opined that the DR has prospered where Haiti has failed because the former is a “Christian” country, I was more inclined to believe that the difference in skin color had much to do with it. I also couldn’t shake a nagging sense that there has been a “get back in your place, boy!” kind of attitude on the part of the white, Western world towards a black people that would dare assert that justice and freedom ought to be their birthright.
So I had to do some reading . . . and I found this article.
The part that took my breath away was this paragraph:
Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters, its food shortages, poverty, deforestation and lack of infrastructure, are not accidental. To say that it is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere is to miss the point; Haiti was made poor–by France, the United States, Great Britain, other Western powers and by the IMF and the World Bank.
I want to read more . . . I want to educate myself further. Yes, please give to relief efforts, choosing wisely as you do . . . but stop and ask yourself just how we got here . . . not the earthquake itself (which was NOT God’s judgment on anyone!), but the tenuous infrastructure of a nation ill-equipped to face such a disaster.
We cry at pictures now . . . we whip out our cell phones and send ten dollars their way . . . but are we looking at ourselves? At our nation, and its role in paralyzing Haiti up until this point?
Not easy questions . . . but I will continue to wrestle with them, and I hope you will join me.