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 ‘«Ű Haiti's first
democratically elected president that has been ousted several times by
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?