Haiti, I mourn your loss. I grieve your pain.
My television shows me the scars on your body but it can not convey the deadly toll this takes on your emotional, and mental well-being. Haiti, your fatherless daughters and motherless sons are wailing in my ears but I can conveniently shut them off with click from my remote in my well-worn chair. Haiti, your broken bones and amputated bodies are a fabulous spectacle that keeps me wrapped in undivided attention till I find some other distraction. There is nothing I can do to conjure up how your amputated spirit must be writhing in pain – without anaesthetic!
Yet I see you dancing and singing in the streets – foolish resilience it would seem. I have heard some say that you deserved the devastation brought upon you – for your Godlessness. God’s judgement they claim. Yet you sing and praise this God in ways few expected. Please forgive those arrogant remarks for we in our own Godlessness should have summoned the unleashed gates of hell itself upon us compared to your contrite heart.
A man said today that earthquakes do not kill but buildings do. The buildings you built were the best you could afford but they weren’t the best that could have been built. Haiti, your international debt was so staggering that your government was powerless to enforce the proper building codes. It was a puppet of the ‘global’ interests of large multi-national corporations. These corporations came in to your country and demanded cheap labour from you because you were so deeply indebted to them and their ‘monetary fund’. So you worked for them for less than $2 a day.
You worked cheap for them so that I could buy a $10 T-shirt at Walmart to cover my obesity. You worked cheap to harvest bananas so that I could eat ripe ones on any day of the week in January. In fact the bananas that you wanted to buy from your own farms were more expensive than the ones from Delmonte. So you bought their bananas instead of the ones your neighbour grew. You even cleaned up your beaches to let my countrymen come and play on them. You cleaned up your women so that they could sleep with them as well – for cheap. You let these big companies build extravagant resorts so that my fellow countrymen could play there – indulge there. You got to go to these hotels as well to clean up after our indulgences. And then you got stuck there. Barely able to eek out a living you fought your friends for the ‘best’ jobs. And your life became dependant on our desire to visit your beautiful island. Your good fortune was married to our whim.
So you did not have the money to build the kind of houses they build in LA that can withstand the shaking of the ground. No one even suggested that a better way to build your homes, your country and your nation might be available. Now you scramble to find a tent to live in under the blazing sun and unrelenting rain.
I am your disaster. I am the cause of your demise. The earth shook but I was the one responsible for your pain. My greed. My consumption. My ignorance. My indifference. My oversight. My quest for pleasure. I am the force that crushed your mother. I am the reason your sons are gone.
Please forgive me.
I repent of my gluttony and I confess my obsession with consuming. I look down the long list of things that mark the entries of my Mastercard bill and I am ashamed to tell you that last week I spent $4 on two hamburgers for myself. I see how corrupt I have become and the pain I have caused you without even really intending to. I swear to you and the God we plead to for help that I will change. I will root out the spectre of consumption in my life. My monthly statements will be different.
Please, Haiti, do not hold hatred in your heart for me or my fellow countrymen. We did not intend harm to you. And we are starting to see our own hearts in the light of your tragedy and in the light of the great Master who once said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
I pray someday your nation will be restored.