By Lisa Smartt
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 8:01 pm
How do we respond to utter devastation 1,500 miles from home? How can we sleep while people are trapped alive under concrete and rubble? What are we to do with the controversial statements made by public figures? How can we help in ways that will make a difference? Sadly, all of these questions became front and center last week.
I don’t like human suffering. I’m sure you don’t either. I cringe while watching footage of the Haitian people buried under rubble while their family members watch in stunned helplessness. It hurts all of us to watch the television images of death, destruction and chaos. I can’t imagine walking through neighborhoods completely crushed by concrete and covered in dust. Or hearing those who are trapped under buildings crying out for help. “Nightmare” is the only word that comes to mind. Americans and people around the world are giving at record amounts. The military has been unbelievable in both ability and strategic preparedness. Relief organizations are on the ground running. But lots and lots of people still died in Haiti. Not because we didn’t care. Not because help didn’t come. They died because earthquakes are sometimes brutal.
On both sides of the political spectrum, some have sought to turn Haiti’s tragedy into an opportunity for political posturing. Several famous people have said stupid things. But human suffering should never be the springboard for making a point. It’s not the time to point fingers or explain what other people should do or could have done. There will even be some who publicly question the motives of relief workers or organizations. But thankfully, there will always be people who don’t have time to hear the complaints because they are on the frontline of doing something about the tragedy. These are the people who work for aid organizations or the military or the many Christian mission organizations found in Haiti. Many of them were already in Haiti trying to help an impoverished country find answers to their multiple problems. Last week’s tragedy was not a political miscalculation. It was an earthquake. A terrible earthquake. It’s time for action. Oh, and if you want to know how sensitive people really are, stop listening to what they’re saying and follow their personal checkbook. Many of their tax returns are available on-line. You might be shocked to learn that those who want to be seen as incredibly merciful are a little less merciful when it comes to their own money.
Haiti’s problems did not begin last week with the earthquake. Political and economic turmoil were already at the forefront of life for most Haitians. Extreme poverty. Educational challenges. A government system filled with corruption and barely holding on. Most of us can’t get on a plane and go to Haiti right now. Not because we’re not willing. But flights into Haiti are filled to overflowing with family members and trained emergency workers. Most of us would get in the way of an organized and concerted effort to bring relief. We can’t re-organize the Haitian government either. That’s in their court, not ours. So how can we help? Proverbs 14:21 makes it clear. Blessed is he who is generous to the poor. If we can’t be there to provide a cup of water in His name, we can write a check to someone who can.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her Web site lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.20.10