Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti and the Human Spirit

The earthquake tragedy in Haiti this past week brought a lot of things to the forefront of my mind. I thought a lot about the world we live in; two things in particular came to mind. The generosity of people, especially in the midst of tragedy; people who don’t even know one another are willing to help each other. The second thing that came to mind is the pain that one human being can inflict on another human being(s). And they do it with no fear, compassion, or sorrow in their eyes; it is frightening.

Haiti is a place where the majority of people have nothing in comparison to what we have, so for them to lose the little that they have is devastating. It is the poorest country in the Americas with a per capita income of $2 a day, 1 in 4 people have a dirt floor in their home, only half of the population can read. Knowing that people are/ were alive under the rubble and couldn’t get out, it hurts. A life is a life. The death toll as of today is up to 200,000; law enforcement is now dealing with looters who are threatening rescue efforts. People at the United Nations said it is the worst natural disaster that they have ever dealt with. The United States has pledged to give $100 million and send troops, 1,000 have already been deployed to the country another 9,000 will be deployed within the next few days.

At my church today, the second collection was for relief efforts in Haiti; Catholic Relief Services which is where the money is being sent to is one of the most successful organizations of its kind in the world. Make a donation here: George Clooney is organizing a telethon that will air on ABC, CBS, NBC, HBO, CMT, MTV, CNN, The CW, FOX, and VH1 on January 22nd. Clooney will air live from Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean (native of Haiti) will air live from New York City, and Anderson Cooper will be on air in Haiti. Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt gave $1 million to doctor’s without borders, Sandra Bullock gave $1 million to the same cause, David Blaine is having a 72 hour magic marathon in NYC, all proceeds will go toward the Haiti earthquake. People are banning together, helping in any way that they know how; and yet sometimes we feel like we’re doing nothing at all. The Haitian Student Union at my alma mater, Northeastern University is collecting items to send to Haiti on January 19th at 6 p.m. at the student center; there will be a candlelight vigil following

Haiti made me think about a lot of things: Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Darfur, The shoe bomber (Richard Reid), Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab who tried to hijack a plane in Detroit just less than a month ago; it was this rush of memories and feelings and emotions. When I thought about it hard, it made me cry, because I just don’t know how I would be in the midst of tragedy like that. I help and donate to causes, donate clothing, and all the while I don’t feel I am doing enough. I don’t think I could ever be a doctor or member of law enforcement, or our military, and yet despite that, I have enormous respect for each and every one of them. I don’t believe I would be strong enough to do any of those jobs.

I wanted to write this because I needed to make how I felt known, I needed to feel like I did something to help. I am an optimist, I believe that despite the evils of this world, there are good people out there.

Today, following a week of thinking about tragedy, I decided to watch the movie World Trade Center. It came out about three and half years ago but I could never bring myself to watch it. It was so intense and so difficult to watch but it teaches you about the strength of the human spirit. It teaches you about how people fall apart in tragedy but how they come together and bond and help each other. I knew the outcome going into the movie, and yet I found myself praying for lives to be saved. I don’t want to give away the movie because I think it is something that everyone should watch but especially Americans. If you want to read about Officer William Jimeno and Sergeant John McLoughlin, you can do so here and . These two men were so brave and they kept each other alive talking to one another about the people that loved them. Both men have since retired from the police force. They both walked across the stage together at Ground Zero ceremonies as the last column on the memorial was revealed; both men received the Port Authority’s Medal of Honor.

There is terror, but we must never forget about the good things in this world, and helping other people for no other reason than is it the right thing to do.

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