I was curled up in bed over the past two days recovering from a nasty stomach bug, covered in blankets with my trusty Gatorade bottle by my side. Once my fever broke, I turned on CNN to catch up on the world outside my room. I was mesmerized and horrified at the same time by the images from Haiti being broadcast, stories of death, destruction and an occasional miracle. Our family had traveled to the island shared by Haiti when we went to the Dominican Republic a few years ago. It is a lush, green mountainous island surrounded by azure waters. As we wound our way to the resorts, I gazed out of the windows at how most people lived on the island. Corrugated tin lean-tos speckled the mountainsides, with an occasional home with a front door. The poverty level was right in front of my eyes, and I have to tell you I was haunted by these images and I felt slightly guilty for the rest of the trip as I saw people throwing away nearly full plates of food in the restaurants, just because they could. We would hear rumblings of a few uprisings on the other side of the island and as one of the people I talked to at the hotel said, “people have so very little, it doesn’t take much to start a skirmish in Haiti.”
Some of the comments that I have heard trying to explain the devastation of this earthquake, turn the blame towards the people of Haiti. It reminds me of discussions I heard at a church retreat post-Katrina equating the destruction to the punishment of a vengeful God because people were saying or doing “bad things”. I know, and we wonder why people have a negative image of Christians sometimes. I don’t claim to understand how God works, but I find it difficult to reconcile the kindness and mercy of God with a post-apocalyptical wrath on people of faith in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Don Miller speaks to this much more eloquently than I ever could in his blog www.donmilleris.com as does Susan Isaac’s www.susanisaacs.blogspot.com. We as a people of faith and bounty are not obligated to help the people of Haiti because we can, but because we should. It was hard watching those images, but seeing the planes and people pouring into Haiti to help the poorest of poor, restores my faith in mankind. In the darkest of times, the best is required of us-grace, mercy, kindness and compassion. It is through this, not finger pointing and blame, that Haiti will move forward.