The images from Haiti compel us to look at the mirror and ask ourselves, if we have a heart and a face? What we see compels us to ask if we are the human beings that we profess to be. The answer moves us to act.
As Haiti bleeds, we don’t ask for proof of their humanity; we feel it. We do not ask if we are related; we know it. As Haiti bleeds, we do not ask for their citizenship nor do we ask their religion. We… we realize that the world is we and we have become one. And so their children are our children and their elders are our elders. And all nations open up their borders.
As Haiti bleeds, we all open up our hearts. Celebrities freely lend their names, their words, their music and songs and we respond by sending ten dollars via a text message. Is that enough? Can we do more than simply send some bucks for a tax-break? Can we give of ourselves? Can we give blood? Indeed, some do more.
Yet, deep down, we all know that no matter how much is raised, it won’t be enough. On the disaster scale, Haiti is 100 times Katrina.
Haiti is in danger of becoming one gigantic and permanent undignified Sally Struthers plea for assistance. Haiti does not need pity; it needs to be rebuilt. $100 million from the U.S. government and assorted charities will not suffice (This is 1,000 times less than the U.S. has spent on its current wars). Beyond that, Haiti needs to be brought into the family of nations, with dignity and a clear path to self-determination and self-reliance.
Haiti’s tragedy was not borne of a natural disaster; it was a tragedy before the quake. The U.S. imperial footprint is all over Haiti’s corridors of power and thus it cannot return to what it was. But that’s a narrative that will have to be written by Haitians, which may include the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide – Haiti’s first democratically elected president that has been ousted several times by U.S.-supported forces.
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The other narrative that Haiti has already changed is that mirror that the rest of the world now wakes up to each morning.
We now know that when Haiti bleeds, we too bleed. Perhaps people will come to understand that about Afghanistan and Iraq too. The people there daily bleed, not because of earthquakes or hurricanes, but because something has happened to dull U.S. minds and eyes. Something has prevented us from seeing our true hearts and our true faces. It is a smoking mirror. It is what has permitted illegal, immoral, senseless, costly and bloody wars to be waged in our names to the tune of over $1 trillion. And that’s but the short-term financial cost.
For at least a decade, U.S. bombs have been dropped all over those two nations with our names inscribed upon them. Our silence permits the carnage. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and maimed and millions have been displaced. Yet, we don’t have an actual count because the U.S. government doesn’t even bother; this is the meaning of dehumanization. As far as this government is concerned, everyone there is a potential enemy, a terrorist or collateral damage. And we all accept their deaths and this generalized and permanent war as necessary to maintain “our freedoms” and “our safety.”
Most of us know better, yet we’ve grown accustomed to looking the other way. Perhaps it is war fatigue. Most assuredly, there is no urgency, nor are there mass appeals to stop this destruction. If we protest the illegality and immorality of these wars, we are told that they are yesterday’s wars or yesterday’s news. But they are being fought today and tomorrow. But already, today and tomorrow is Yemen and Pakistan, Somalia and the Sudan. Possibly even Cuba and Venezuela.
We have found our collective humanity in Haiti and it now compels us to remove that smoke from our mirrors. It compels us to act, not just in Haiti and not just abroad, but even at home.
Perhaps we are not far off from the day when people will also feel compelled to demand from the U.S. government to put a halt to its draconian, anti-immigrant policies that contribute to the killing fields along the U.S. Mexico border. In this decade, more than five thousand corpses have turned up in the mountains and desert, yet where are the mass appeals? Where is our humanity?