An earthquake is ‘a sudden movement of the earth’s crust caused by the release of stress accumulated along geologic faults or by volcanic activity. It’s also called a tremor.’ It’s a natural disaster – not a decision made by some supernatural deity.
It’s not about a distant vengeful god. It’s not preventable.
But the extent of the damage in Haiti is, in part, the result of poverty and politics – poorly constructed buildings, similar to the extent of the damage in New Orleans because of levees that broke under Katrina’s pressure. Haiti’s history is not a pretty picture.
Scenes from the earthquake’s destruction in Haiti are heartbreaking. We take in as much as we can handle, then we have to turn away from the television and newspaper reports, feeling compassion fatigue.
Thousands of relief workers have descended on Port-au-Prince. To assist them, we had a special offering last Sunday in support of Save the Children’s disaster relief work there. We decided on Save the Children because they’ve been working in Haiti for the past 25 years – they know the territory. Save the Children spends 4% of their money on salaries and 4% on fund-raising costs, so 92% goes to relief.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to make a contribution you can write a check payable to the church and we’ll add it to the Save the Children donation.
In addition to the immediate response to the disaster caused by the earthquake we need to learn about Haiti’s unfortunate man-made history.
In a Times op-ed piece Tracy Kidder, who did the research, writes: “Haiti is a country created by former slaves, kidnapped West Africans, who, in 1804, when slavery still flourished in the United States and the Caribbean, threw off their cruel French masters and created their own republic. Haitians have been punished ever since for claiming their freedom: by the French who, in the 1820s, demanded and received payment from the Haitians for the slave colony, impoverishing the country for years to come; by an often brutal American occupation from 1915 to 1934; by indigenous misrule that the American government aided and abetted. (In more recent years American administrations fell into a pattern of promoting and then undermining Haitian constitutional democracy.)”
I’m reminded of Thoreau’s famous quip: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”