Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heartbreaking News from Haiti

Yesterday on Diane Rehm's show, I heard Gregg Easterbrook talk about central Africa, and he said that anything that can go wrong in a region has gone wrong there. You could say the same thing about Haiti.

And now, a huge earthquake, so soon after the devastating hurricanes of 2007.

I'm not going to indulge in asking all the questions of WHY. Why does God allow such tragedy? Why can't the Haitian government behave better so that these tragedies aren't so magnified? How can Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same land mass with such different outcomes?

The answer to any of these questions could be handled in book-length detail. But we know that right now, people need help. It's even more dire a tragedy than it might have been, because many of the aid organizations already on the ground had their headquarters in the areas that have been most devastated.

If you've got your favorite aid organization, you know what to do. If you don't, let me recommend Lutheran World Relief. They have a fabulous record, and you can be sure that your money will go to helping people, not to lining the pockets of CEOs. Go here to donate specifically to earthquake relief for Haiti.

And, of course, even if you have no extra money in these tough economic days, you can pray. You can light a candle and pray that our God of love and justice be with the survivors of the earthquake. You can pray for all the displaced Haitians who are worried into a frenzy about their loved ones back home. You can feel extra gratitude today because you are not at the mercy of the elements after a horrible natural disaster. You can take this moment to acknowledge that as much as we might like to believe we are the architects of our fate, we are all only one natural (or humanmade) disaster away from being plunged into poverty. And then you can pray again.

And then you can think about your bank balance again. Maybe you're not as impoverished as you think. Maybe you can tighten up the budget in one place so that you have money to spare for Haiti. If a hurricane or a tornado or a wildfire wiped out your community, you'd be profoundly grateful for outsiders who helped out. Now is our turn as the fortunate ones to help out the victims.

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