Things change; we usually never appreciate what we have until it's gone, while we can be struck with immediate despair and utter destruction of everything we've come to know and love in a heartbeat -- and with that, we begin today with all prayers heading in one direction, and that is south -- to Haiti.
And if history reminds us of anything, it is that we are lucky enough to live in the most compassionate and gracious country that has ever lived.
Oh sure, rumor has it that China got there first -- so let us stop for a moment in thanks and praise that they felt the need to mobilize any humanitarian efforts at all, huh? Wonders never cease.
Only thing is, WE -- as in the US of A -- were already there.
United States missionaries, one's like Christian Aid who have had a presence since the 1950's somewhere around the world, are mobilized every day, and currently lay in ruin along with the Haitians.
Not everything goes as planned, however, and not everything is fully understood -- even when missionaries come with good intentions; I stumbled upon a very interesting blog, Haiti Innovation, that gives us another point of view and experience worthy of a read -- and just as worthy were the comments subsequently attached. There is always multiple points of light to the same story...always.
My last couple of days have been pretty much lost in a technological black hole; of course, it can't even come close to the trials and unbearable destruction going on in Haiti, so with that G should just shut up. But since it all started while I was gallivanting around the net to find information on Haiti and it's people and it's issues, I think I'm gonna go there anyway -- if only for a moment.
While searching for insight, my fingers innocently marched over a firewall and into dangerous territory; somehow, some way, I was immediately overwhelmed and attacked from all sides. After spending hours trying to take it all back, trying to find a way to wish it all away -- in the end, my entire computer crashed and burned and there was nothing I could do about it.
The thing is, even when imminent danger could be foreseen, as in Katrina, as in this earthquake in Haiti -- we may not get everything right in our actions or response -- both individually and collectively. Apparently, scientists predicted a disaster looming to this extent back in 2008, but what do you do with that kind of information in a country already so destitute? How did the powers that be respond? How did they prepare their people, as if they really cared?
Haiti's reputation of corruption, in a land of the poorest of the poor, is all we know about this country; it is the reason we have the umpteen christian organizations, and Doctors Without Borders, and any other group destined to help change the world down there in the first place. Two million people lived around the Port Au Prince area -- and the same two million people nearly died all in a matter of minutes.
I didn't realize until Wednesday that nearly 90% of all schools are privately held, non-public, entities provided by the missionaries large and small, many of them through a religious affiliation, which is why some of the early pictures out of Haiti showed children in uniforms of plaid skirts and white blouses in tears.
I didn't realize until Wednesday that if they are going to rebuild anything using wood, they will have to import the two by fours as the surrounding forests are all but gone; a system respecting the dynamics of replenishment and conservation, or planting a tree for every one cut down, seems to be non existent.
I didn't realize until Wednesday that there are people, like Joel Trimble, who have worked in Haiti for 34 years as a missionary -- an example of just one person bringing a sign of hope and perhaps a few blankets, books, and new beginnings for a land where leadership is nowhere to be found.
It must be nice to be President of the United States, you know, to be able to drop a pledge of 100 million dollars in aid on a moments notice -- to be able to deploy a half dozen ships and troops numbering in the thousands, including a fully operational and sea worthy hospital with the ability to hold thousands and bring immediate surgical aid or simply band-aids and plenty of TLC. It must be nice.
You kinda like your job now, huh?
It must be nice to be able to take over all air traffic control and logistics requiring the transport and distribution of supplies directly to the people, as in placing the USS Carl Vinson right off the port and slightly to the left of the island. That is some kind of super-fly, super-carrier, isn't it. It must be nice.
Of course, being the President of a country responsible for being the home of the Red Cross says a lot too; always there, that magical international and universal symbol of 'everything is gonna be okay.' For such a little red cross, seeing it come over the horizon and out of the blue, I can only imagine how it must bring such a feeling of hope, an instant and overriding sense of security, for the face of despair.
And then there is being President of a country who can offer up the services of a couple of past presidents too, like that of William Jefferson "the player" Clinton and the cowboy, George W. -- creating instant ambassadors and international spokesmen out of them for the sole purpose of raising the roof and lassoing donations on behalf of those who lost everything. Now THAT must have been fun to do, in spite of the circumstances of course.
It just must be nice, you know, to be a President who can come to the aid of the world, anytime and anywhere -- that's all I'm saying. It is moments like this where, if you are really smart -- while I for one truly believe that you are -- you will remember for the rest of your term and in every speech you make from here on out. The United States IS that kind of country -- and you, my dear President, can take all the credit in the world for it while during your reign in the here and now.
It just must be nice, you know, for you to see firsthand how we operate here in the good ole USA and just how good we can be; these are the days that must make you and the first lady very proud to be an American, say oui? And since these days come few and far between in your eyes, it may be worth your while to soak it up a little and take it all in...you know, so the next time circumstances offer you a chance to remind the world who we are, it will come to mind in an instant.
You know, I didn't realize until Wednesday that they consider a Haitian to be the father of Chicago -- a fellow by the name of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable. As the story goes, he was the first to have settled onto the shores of the lake, opening up a fur-trading post in the 1700's. (Shooosh, it was long before fur became out of vogue; and plus, people depended on the stuff to keep warm, so it may be an issue where we agree to disagree and move on) Anyway, the guy was considered best for his entrepreneurial spirit (again. an issue we can agree to disagree on the virtues of free enterprise) anywho... he proved a history so noteworthy that the city of Chicago grew to recognize him a couple of centuries later; but of course, you probably know all that, as a plaque was planted in 1968 and sits at the corner of Kinzie and Pine.
I find the serendipity of finding the two of you on this Haitian connection today rather fascinating, in a good way actually, so don't hate. Anytime the world offers us a chance to come full circle in a manner of speaking, or in one way or another, it warms be through and through. There are no accidents as they say.
But desperate times do call for desperate measures -- but having an entire army of men and women and community organizers and relief workers on the ground and ready to help in whatever measure they can -- priceless.
It must be nice to be President at a time like this.
As all systems were down on my end, I was able to catch part of the news streaming out of Haiti. It became quite clear very quickly how the reality of two million people changed; while those who were left to live in the aftermath were thrown into a situation of such grave circumstances without the ability to do anything about it, let alone be able to prevent it. NO water; NO electricity; NO security; and having all that occur in the midst of losing your home and family, at least, what was last known to be your home and family.
Moments would take me by surprise; moments like an emotional Steve Harrigan, of Fox News, reporting live -- while speaking with one of my favorite people to watch, Shepard Smith -- he had to stop, Steve, and catch his breath, and through his cracked, wobbly voice utter the observation of feeling so alone in the world...
as big and beautiful that it is...
sometimes even bringing the world to you will never be enough --
then the camera fans over to a woman who must be held down to be comforted, as she is absolutely inconsolable from the loss of all five children at once. As a mom, the only reason necessary to allow yourself the freedom to go insane. I can't even imagine.
The Red Cross believes that nearly 50,000 lives have been lost -- Haitians, Americans, United Nations workers, missionaries, along with the ministers of a government already long gone, equally under the laws of nature and the imperfections of man.
Today, the hope and change just can't come fast enough -- but let us be comforted, as it is sure nice to know it is on the way.
Make it a Good Day, G