February 4, 2010
The following is a reflection written by Daniel Tillias, Haitian activist and Project Director of Pax Christi, Haiti. (Photo: Daniel and Vladamire with children at St. Claire's Parish)
The Earthquake in Haiti Can Be a Sign for Peace in the World.
The effort to bring relief to the Haitian people is without precedent. Haiti once again is the center of the world's attention - people from all over, from all religions, all colors and all races are down in Haiti. Many organizations are trying their best to bring assistance to the needed population suffering from the disaster, but it does not seem that it can be enough to help this nation which is recovering from so many lost.
The official number of people who died is close to 200,000; more than 200,000 are injured and the financial loss is evaluate at several billion.
Contrary to previous tragedies like the hurricanes Jeanne and Ike, this past quake has hit all sectors of the country. Everyone had a reason to shed tears in memory of a close family member, relative or friend. Churches and schools that have a hundred years of stories collapsed, with traditions and beliefs that were the foundation of life in Haiti.
If, as it is for the hurricane, they could name an earthquake after something or someone, the name “professor” would fit exactly with this earthquake. Because in less than one minute, Haiti and also the entire world have received a lecture from Mother Nature: the most imminent professor there could ever be.
For many people it is because of the extreme poverty in Haiti that the world has expressed such an attention to this disaster. Maybe it is true, however, something more powerful is behind this. For too many years humanity was lost. Individualism and selfishness were so predominant that we forgot that this earth is all we have so far. We have seen billions spent on nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction while people are dying of hunger and malnutrition. Also there has been a devastation of the environment without precedent while the alternatives to this were never taken into consideration. Because of all this and other similar concerns, the world was in need for a sign to inspire awareness on a different way of living. Unfortunately, because all the diplomatic behavior and politics, tragedies such as the two world wars were not enough of a sign, the hunger in Somalia was not, the genocide in Rwanda was not, the war between Iran and Iraq was not, the situation in Sudan was not.
It has to be Haiti, the mountain's land, the land of the Spirits and inspiration to teach the world in one minute what the best environment expert, antiwar activist, and so many who preach homilies could not do over many years of attempts.
Haiti helps the world understand that Muslim, Christian, black, white, rich and poor can be just one. We have seen in the news people from the Dominican Republic standing for hours in a line to donate blood to Haitians in the nearby hospital. People aware of the situation of Haitian migration in the DR can tell how strong this is to offer their blood to Haitians. We have seen camps with very wealthy people sharing the morning cup of coffee with very poor brothers who are sleeping in the next tent. There are many other examples that should definitely inspire a time for big change.
Haiti lives for the world what no other should ever experience. Haiti brings to our mind what for too long was out of our sight. The whole world now has no excuse for ignorance of all these dangers threatening the future of the coming generation: like the destruction accompanying war and what environmental degradation can cause to this earth.
The reasons behind war and an earthquake are really different, sure - but the suffering is not different. And this is one lesson this earthquake should teach the world. Haiti rallies every individual to understand some examples of what it means for a little baby to lose both parents at a glance; for people to be under constant threat that it will hit again. It is not the same situation, for sure - but the cracks in the house that the people avoid to get in and all the aftershocks are pretty similar situation to what some populations experience constantly from war. And also the same is this: seeing a population fleeing to the country reminds us of the refugees living in a war zone.
At this moment many efforts are addressed to the Haitian people. But it is good to remember that the best therapy for all this can be nothing other than love. Love is more powerful than any relief people can imagine, and it should be the main focus.
As the commitment is so big toward bringing relief to the people who survive from this, everyone should think about ways to do something in memory of these thousands of people who died. One way to honor the souls of the victims of this earthquake is to end all that can cause the same suffering to other people in the world. End war, cease violence, reduce hunger, reduce pollution in the world - this is the best tribute the world can give to the Haitian people.
Thanks to God and the tremendous solidarity of all nations, Haitians who are very strong people are now ready for a new beginning. However, the strength of the relief will be nothing if in the days to come there will be in the news information about a bomb attempt to kill people or an invasion of a country.
Anytime there will be suffering in this world, the sad memory of January 12th will be back .
If there is one opportunity to take from what happened in Haiti, we believe it should be for the whole world to take this quake as a sign for peace in the world. This way the thousands of victims of this disaster would not have died for nothing. They will be like messengers whose sacrifice opened the eyes of the blinded world.
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