Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Speaks to All of Us

The cries of Haitians are heard around the world and generous private and public aid is making its difficult way to the people.

Apart from the foolish diatribes of Hugo Chavez and some stupid words from the religious and secular Right, all people of conscience, regardless of faith or politics, are moved by the plight of the nation.

Haiti speaks to all of us. She is the poorest nation in the hemisphere and neither the totalitarian regimes of the Duvaliers nor the populism of Aristide nor the present government have been able to to change the factors that make Haiti's plight perennial and not just occasional.

Haiti speaks to all of us. Haiti demonstrates the long-term consequences of the trifecta of structural poverty, governmental oppression and ignorance that yield bitter fruit for the people.

Haiti speaks to all of us. The twin legacies of colonialism and militarism haunt the land. The lack of any sustained history of economic opportunity and political freedom cripple her future.

Haiti speaks to all of us. What can be done, once people are fed and rebuilding begins? Massive educational efforts must unite with real empowering economic opportunities if Haiti is to have a future different from her past. Freedom of conscience, press and religion must become pillars of the future.

Right now Haiti needs emergency help of all kinds, from water to medical care to counselors. The earthquake is a natural disaster and a national tragedy. Helping people rebuild includes helping them see a future that is different. That future includes freedom - freedom from anything that keeps justice and opportunity away. The future does not need one more dictator or neocolonial control by the USA. The future must not include the failed experiments of Cuba and Venezuela.

Haitians need the tools - both ideas and material goods - to build a unique Haitian future. But she cannot do this alone. Perhaps for a moment, the world can unite and care for the plight of millions left bereft. Perhaps for a moment ideology can give way to compassion. Perhaps for a moment some fresh water can revive the bodies and spirits of the beautiful people of Haiti.

Haiti speaks to all of us. Will we hear the cries and help? Will we hear the cries and learn?