Reflection on the Earthquake in Haiti

There is an endless stream of tragic stories coming out of Haiti right now after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that flattened Port-au-Prince. These ‘mega-tragedies,’ if you will, seem to be happening more frequently than ever before. I’m sure that’s not the case, because tragedy of one kind or another has always followed humanity. But technology has enabled us to see tragedy unfold almost instantaneously, and the result is a magnification of that tragedy. We began to see it with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and it’s become much more palpable with recent tragedies, from the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004, Katrina in 2005, the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, etc.

Updates come instantly, from text-based updates sent out and passed along on Twitter or Facebook to video and pictures that are captured and immediately broadcast. We no longer have to wait for the six o’clock news—or even flip to cable news, like my generation—to see what tragedy has occurred today.

This is an example of technology making tragedy more palpable, more personal, more painful. You can see it in the way we open our pocketbooks and lift up our prayers. With that endless stream of tragedy there’s also an understandable temptation to turn away. It can all be too much.

With that in mind, I wanted to point to one small story I heard about. It was a quick prayer update passed along Twitter by a friend of a friend of a friend:

PRAYER: RT @eloranicole @tiffsoutherland: friend who was adopting from Haiti-met child-going this week 2 get her-found out child was killed

-@jdblundell, January 13, 2009

This person, I don’t even know their name, had met the child they were going to adopt from Haiti and they were traveling this very week to go bring that baby home. And that child died in this earthquake. [Hold on. I broke down crying while typing that sentence.]

There are so many tiny things in a tragedy like this that can break you, and this was the one that did it for me. Children need parents. The only saving grace in that 140-character update is that the child had a chance to meet their parents. At the very, very least this child died with love and hope. [Fight it. Fight back the tears, damn it!] So many more children in Haiti died without that. And that will happen again in Haiti and around the world. Please consider adoption.

I’ll leave you with one other thought, because as important as I think adoption is, this is about more than adoption. Bob Collins, a Minnesota Public Radio news guru and blogger  made this comment on Twitter (rather, his son made the comment, Bob posted it):

Haiti is poorest nation in W. hemisphere. Why does it take earthquake to make us send money?

That is a good question. The answer is pretty obvious. But for me personally (and many I know), the answer is it didn’t take an earthquake. My church has a sister parish in Haiti that we’ve partnered with for nearly two decades. My grandparents support a ministry in Haiti. I have friends who have traveled there and been touched and changed by the Haitian people. Compassion International and charity: water do incredible work there. Many people (and me, in a very small way) have been loving, supporting and partnering with the poorest of the poor in Haiti for years. Why? People shouldn’t have to go hungry or sick or die for want of clean water.

As important as I think adoption is, making adoption unnecessary by overcoming the poverty and other stigmas that lead to dead parents or abandoned children is even more important. Thousands dying in an earthquake is a tragedy. Millions dying from poverty is something more.

If you’d like to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti, pick one (let’s not forget a certain gadfly’s call to support our prayers with real, tangible action):

(I hate that it always comes down to donating money. But in an emergency, I’m not sure what more we can do. But it seems inhuman to sit by and do nothing.)

One thought on “Reflection on the Earthquake in Haiti”

  1. I pray for those people who have been injured in Haiti. the earthquake in Haiti is one of the word disasters this year. I just hope that they would be able to recover soon.

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