Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti: Who’s At Fault Or What’s To Be Done

Haiti: Who’s At Fault Or What’s To Be Done
It seems that tragedy and crisis always brings out the extremes in human beings. I am not sure if this is caused by human nature or the human paradox. As the tragedy of our family in Haiti continues to become more understood, there are those who would either blame God, external structures, or the Haitians themselves for the crisis that has befallen them. Strange indeed are those who would suggest that somehow a vengeful God has decided to punish the Haitians with earthquakes, or those who posit the historical policies of neglect, imperialism, and exploitation of the U.S. and others accounts for the lack of development and hence the unnaturalness of the disaster, and yet others who suggests that the Haitian history of corrupt government, culture of poverty, and essential laziness lies at the heart of the tragedy. I wonder, if those who are spending so much time finding fault are essentially using the Haitian tragedy to promote their favorite excuse for doing nothing. Regardless of these minor conversations, a much larger one is taking place around the world which is more constructive and beneficial to the Haitian people in their time of need.

It is these conversations, backed by real, tangible, and significant efforts that will help sustain the Haitian people during these difficult days that lay ahead. It is remarkable to see the hundreds thousands of doctors and nurses, the firemen and rescue squads, the humanitarian and relief workers, military and civilians, and the church folks and the common folks –who have left home, family, and jobs to extend a hand to those caught up in this disaster to render aid and comfort to the unfortunate Haitian victims. These, unsung heroes, are doing what needs to be done to transform the living hell that Haiti has become into a space for healing and restoration.

What we should recognize, as this healing and restoration takes place is that this is a process and not an event. Haiti, long before this current crises, was teetering on the brink of disaster as abject poverty became the norm for all too many of its’ citizens. As we continue the process toward healing and restoration, we need to discuss how to help the Haitians create a sustainable society where all of its people have access to a decent standard of living, housing, medical care, trade, and employment, and education. Perhaps, out of this tragedy we can discover new directions. If we can begin this conversation, perhaps out of the destruction a new vessel of hope might emerge. Perhaps, just perhaps we can move past finding fault to discovering what’s to be done to began a conversation about the Americas and their viability, vitality, and vibrancy into the future.

Note Rodney D. Coates is a professor of sociology and gerontology at Miami University. He can be reached at
Rodney D. Coates
Professor of Sociology and Gerontology
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056
513 - 529 1590

*W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio*On Haiti, King, Obama, Race, Religion & Other Matters: A Conversation With The Honorable Rev. C.T. Vivian

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