Posted by: chlost | January 15, 2010


It has been overwhelming and depressing to follow all of the news about the Haitian earthquake.  It seems beyond comprehension and beyond reality. How would our country, my community, my family react or fare in such a calamity?  Don’t most Americans think of themselves as the heroes of the movie?  We are always the ones who make it to the end, having dodged the bullets, jumped the caverns, run through the fires, rescued all of our friends, loved ones and innocents. 

But really, that’s not how it would be.  We are all 3 days away from total and complete breakdown of civil society.  If we were without food, water, medical care, and shelter, there would be chaos.  In this area in particular. I hate to admit, I think that it would be neighbor against neighbor, the guns would come out and there would be no heroes.  But then again, I think that the definition of hero changes in such times.  In this situation, to be a hero, it may just be that you survive.

The comparisons to the aftermath of Katrina are unavoidable.  Again, Americans think of themselves as civilized.  But from what little I have seen in the media so far, I see only humanity trying to survive in both situations. The Haitians have had so little their entire lives.  They seem almost resigned to the fact that this horrible thing is happening to them.  There is an understated dignity in some of the pictures of grief and shock in their faces. My memories of the photos of Katrina victims is that mixed with the grief and shock  there was anger and resentment at the fate of those who survived.  My memory may be skewed, the pictures may have been inaccurate or biased.

If comparing material things, the Katrina victims lost much more if you look at the monetary value.  But Haiti’s victims had nothing of much monetary value.  But both groups have lost everything.  Home, family, food and water, trust in the simple assumption that they would get up the next day and go about their lives.  It is hard to imagine being in that position.  Would we take the “high road” and help others, or defend our own family and loved ones over others?    What would we do?   What would I do?


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