Saturday, January 16, 2010

When disaster strikes... helping Haiti


“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”

- Dr. Carl Sagan

... sigh...

Guesstimates from Haiti on the death toll from the disastrous 7.0 earthquake is at 140,000. Haiti...

... a devastated landscape, a neglected population, a nation long a pawn of world powers and human greed and incivility...

Haiti, the western hemisphere's poorest country has long suffered from a human earthquake of exploitation, yet little has been done to alleviate that perpetual disaster. Thankfully humanity does have a compassionate streak that compels our actions, mobilizing us to provide aid, coming from all around the globe to lend our hands, our backs and resources.

My mind is so aswirl at what to say here, I can't keep up with my muse so bear with me while I sort and sift through my thoughts...

I denigrate no one's help in such a disaster - needs are immediate, instantaneous and overwhelming. Cries in the dark, crushed bodies, families broken, children orphaned, food and water scarce already becomes almost non-existent for most. Trauma and crisis, hunger... the wails of frightened and injured children...

Close your eyes and imagine the terror - and thank your stars for what you have, the blessings of stability.

I really wished I could understand or have someone explain to me how it is that the most noble human traits will arise in response to the Haitian quake yet we collectively ignore the hunger, malnutrition and starvation that takes tens of thousands of human lives - mostly childrens' lives - each and every single day.

I seriously, seriously cannot grasp the fundamental flaw that causes us to not just ignore the daily catastrophe of the neglected but to also endeavor so damn hard to kill and murder one another day after day after day... whether through warfare or civil/societal violence. (see, I'm starting to get steamed and if I were speaking I'd be swearing beyond using "damn")

And when I get really pissed off is when jackasses like Pat Robertson open their mouths and let the putrid dreck that fills their heads fall out. And Pat did, again. Jackass... here's what Pat said:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it [...] They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal."

To quote Red Foreman from That 70's Show "Dumbass!"

The best quote I've seen this morning while going about gathering my info comes from Andy Borowitz over at Huffington Post:

Pat Robertson has become a "public relations nightmare" and a "gynormous embarrassment to me, personally," God said today.

Yay god.

Add Rush Limbaugh to the Jackass List (if he isn't already in one of your top slots):

"Everything this president sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion."

Thankfully the White House called Limbaugh's statement "really stupid." 'nuff said...

Back to the positive side... people who help. We have so many fine people helping through organizations like Doctors Without Borders(Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF), or, like here in Oregon, we have the Oregon Disaster Medical Team, all medical professionals reacting and working hard at getting their volunteers and equipment there expeditiously.

I don't have money to give, but I do have my art. And while I haven't heard back from them, I am going to donate 50% of the profits from any sales of my photos at RedBubble during Janruary (sic) and February, to the Oregon Disaster Medical Team. Framed prints run about $120 (US) and gift cards are $5 or so... I'll let you know how sales go. Please, do consider a purchase, I can use the $ too...

Here is the Gallery: welcome to the world I see...

And here are some samples:

Do what you can. Give money, give time, support the orgs supporting those in need. And please, ignore Pat and Rush. Amazing how it is that smart people can be so stupid...

I watch Bill Moyers Journal on PBS Friday nights when I can. Last night I was able to catch his interview with Greg Mortenson on his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amazing... people like this inspire me. These kinds of examples are just too freaking rare.

Craig Mortenson

Mortenson has so far built over 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, helping to educate nearly 60,000 children. For Mortenson it's a process of love. And of respect. He could not get any of his work done if he did not humble himself and adapt to the tribal/clannish culture of the region. He works through the elders, the local headmen and even the Taliban.

He spoke of his being taken hostage by a local group. He said he wasn't tortured but he sure wasn't treated well. Until he started talking to his captors about the upcoming birth of his child and asked for a Q'uran and an Imam to teach and translate. Funny... he explained that the Q'uran doesn't advocate suicide - it's a definite no-no - or any of the other nonsense the Muslim haters portray. He explained why his task of school building gains and holds support of the locals - it's because the Q'uran calls the pen mightier than the sword, calls for respecting the women and elders... I guess I'm going to have to learn more. Sigh... this education stuff just doesn't stop!

Mortenson is also an author and his book Three Cups of Tea
One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
is now mandated reading for any U.S. official working in Afghanistan, including our military generals. The book's site also includes his other books.

Again... these are the people who deserve our support. Mortenson has a program, Pennies for Peace. Here is a summary from the About The Program:

The Pennies for Peace service-learning program began at Westside Elementary School in River Fall, WI in 1994, when students, through their own initiative, raised 62,340 pennies to help Greg build his first school in Pakistan. Greg came to Westside at the invitation of his mother, Jerene Mortenson, who was the principal at Westside.

Aah... Greg also blogs, using Google's BlogSpot (same as Morning Donut): Greg Mortenson's Blog. I will be adding Greg's blog to my list of links in the left hand column of this blog.

As always, thanks very much for stopping by. The growth of this blog is on account of you all. I have nearly 1,000 visitors a month now, up just a bit from the 100 or so I was getting in my first year... and my readers are from all over the globe.

Fight for right, fight for peace, end the wars, feed the hungry, educate the uneducated... in other words - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


“If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, 'I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.'”

- Ann Landers


1 comment:

Rain said...

What I like about Mercy Corps is that while they are not as big as the others, they are oriented toward helping people rebuild their lives, not just feed or clothe them for the moment. I wonder if we have too many aid groups and they step on each other's toes with not functioning together but competitively. What is needed in a disaster is the immediate help but then a rebuilding effort. I don't begin to know how we rebuild the world's poverty stricken regions as there are so many and each one would be in the same situation if they had a natural disaster. It seems it has grown much worse in my lifetime. We cannot fix it all because these are independent nations but it seems we need to put more pressure on corrupt governments and more help to educate people to be able to help themselves. Natural disasters happen everywhere but when it's a poverty stricken region, it's multiplied many times.