Editorial 01-10 - Haiti Quake: Our Woes in Perspective

These past few years of financial ruin and collapse have been devastating to many in our country and around the world. It is was a common refrain to commiserate about our losses and suffering. Nothing brought me to my senses quite like the earthquake in Haiti.

The earthquake in Haiti leaves no room in our consciences to ignore the loss, as the hundreds of images of dead bodies, injured survivors, and utterly destroyed lives fill our screens. Nothing on this scale has occurred since the tsunami of December 2004. Even then, I was glued to the screen. But this is very different. The actions of the Tsunami that hit Southeast Asia seemed so unreal and fascinating; The sea wiped away almost all the devastation that was caused by this cataclysm, leaving only our imaginations to conjure the depth of the loss. The numbers then, and now, are numbing. Measuring human loss in the tens or hundreds or thousands is beyond my ability to wrap my mind around.

The photographs of the losses in Haiti are less forgiving. The thousands of corpses and the thousands injured is heart-wrenching. I choke up. The lives of the citizens of this most-poor country were already difficult enough. Historic climatic and political events have made the lives of ordinary people extremely hard. I try to imagine what they must be going through. Everyone known to them has someone who has lost. Struggling to make-do in the world today is challenging. Surviving the earthquake, even unscathed, is only the beginning. How does a family have the emotional strength, let alone the financial and physical resources to rebuild?

The decade past was very bad for many people around the globe, and this and other acts of man and nature test the strength and resolve of many millions. Clearly if the very poorest nations' citizens can find the strength, so, indeed, can we absorb the sacrifices necessary to rebuild our lives, our communities, our infrastructure, our bank accounts, and our resolve. Clearly, at least to me, my pain and the suffering of so many of my fellow Americans pales compared to the countless others whose situations are infinitely more dire than ours.

One of the frustrations over the past decade has been the absence of any call for ordinary Americans to contribute to the common good. We have not been called on by our Presidents or leaders to pursue any sacrifice even though we face record deficits and are fighting two wars. Instead, we were told, "..just go shopping." I think it would make the country feel better, as we would be come the instruments of our salvation, if we were brought together for common enterprise for greater good.

While we go about or lives, let us put our good fortune into perspective. As bad as it is for so many just trying to eke out a living, there are millions (billions?) who suffer, starve, and sacrifice so as to make our losses seems silly. In many paces in the world, a family could live for a year on what a family here wastes in just a month. Few of us are down to our last dollar, and I call on everyone who reads this: sacrifice one dinner at a restaurant and give the savings to someone in need.