Dear God: What, exactly, is the lesson of Haiti?
It’s hard to imagine what else there is to say about the crisis in Haiti that hasn’t already been said a thousand times or more. Perhaps that the word ‘crisis’ is painfully insufficient to describe what is happening over there in that corner of the world way over there out of eyesight where the rest of the world had hoped Haiti would remain. Forever. Because when a country gets to be in as bad a shape as Haiti was in long before the first earthquake tremors even began to awaken the nightmare, other countries tend to paint over that country with a convenient blind spot.
Because when you’re so poor it doesn’t appear you may ever be anything else but desperately poor for the remainder of your days, suffice it to say that not many of your not-quite-so-poor neighbors want to be anywhere near you because they figure you’re always gonna want something. Just like that relative of yours that never quite made it and was always in some kind of trouble or other. For awhile you may have been concerned, and may even have done whatever you could to maybe help out a bit – so long as it didn’t put you out too much – but after awhile you just got tired of , well, just the constant neediness that seemed to pull at you whenever that particular relative was in the vicinity. So gradually, or perhaps not so gradually, maybe you just, well, sort of found yourself backing away until you were so far away that you couldn’t even see your relative anymore. And you hoped, you know, that he/she was OK, you really did. It’s just that, well, you had shit to do. You know? As do we all.
And that’s sort of like Haiti in a sense. Because Haiti (which happens to be the first independent black nation in the world courtesy of the great black Haitian General Toussaint L’Ouverture who led the Haitian slave revolt of 1791, overthrowing the French colonial regime) has been ignored and shunned virtually ever since the black slaves there had the nerve to rise up, throw out the occupying colonial power, and form their own country. Because you’ve got to know that if the infant United States of America had to struggle as hard as it did to get European nations to defy the pissed off British and be willing to trade with them, even after they had defeated the pissed off British in the Revolutionary War, then, well, you damned well know what an infant all-black nation was up against in trying to make friends. And – just speculating here – but if the French were the ones who helped out the United States to fend off the pissed off British and win the war, but they were also the ones who had colonized and enslaved the Haitians? I mean, just take a minute there and do the political math of what the Haitians were up against trying to win friends with the rest of the Europeans…
And so then all those years later comes the brutality of Papa Doc Duvalier, followed by his idiot son Baby Doc Duvalier, and now the Haitians were being raped and otherwise brutalized by their own. Not a Frenchman in sight. And then, once again, the Haitians rise up and send Baby Doc packing. After a nearly combined 30 years of unimaginable brutality and horror foisted on them by their own leaders, the people had had enough and tossed the leaders out. Sort of. It’s kind of a complicated story, but it’s ugly. Some victories, but not nearly enough and not nearly clear-cut enough. When the majority of people are surviving on just hundreds of dollars a year and an estimated four out of five are illiterate, then it’s safe to say nobody there has really ‘won’ just yet.
Which all leads to the searing question of why, of all nations in the world, did it have to be Haiti to be cursed with this earthquake? Is it possible that another nation exists somewhere that was less-equipped to deal with this devastation? Very hard to imagine. And if God is teaching another one of his lessons, was it for the Haitians or is it for the rest of us? And what exactly is this lesson supposed to be? Not to blame God, you understand, but then…sometimes I just don’t understand.
Sometimes I just don’t understand.
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