Friday, January 15, 2010

Watching the Chaos in Haiti...

You can't help but be moved, even if you're an emotionally-stunted, stone-hearted prick like me. I wasn't moved by the devestation of Hurricane Katrina, to be honest, because I figured there was a reason why God put New Orleans 30-feet below sea-level (She does stupid things like that), and I have no sympathy for people who watched a Cat 5-hurricane inch towards them from the other side of the Atlantic on television every day for a week, but who still decided it was someone else's responsibility to save them from it, or who put their faith in elected officials who locked themselves in a hotel bathroom and assumed the fetal position for three days while buses were available to evacuate the city, and the Superdome became Rwanda.

You can't watch earthquakes coming at you on the Weather Channel. You have little to no warning at all, and what passes for a government in Haiti couldn't organize a gang-bang in a gay bar, let alone rescue anyone, or institute a program of disaster preparedness.

But, there is one comon thread between this earthquake and Katrina, which both puzzles and disgusts me.

Why is it that human beings feel it necessary to riot and loot in the midst of such a tragedy? I remember that during the greatest tragedy of my lifetime, September 11, very few people in the City of New York decided that was a good opportunity to walk off with the 56" plasma screen of their dreams, or a few diamond necklaces. We were too busy being stunned into disbelief, and moved more by concerns for those who needed help, our security, and watching out for more terrorists.

I understand that human nature is what it is. But people who need food, medicine and water are out there looting consumer electronics. Something is seriously wrong here. I saw it on Fox, (P)MSNBC, and CNN. Right there on video: criminals. I doubt that they'll have much use for what they've stolen, since Haiti may not have electrical power restored for another decade, but that's beside the point. Right now, we're hearing that Haitians are forming roadblocks of human corpses to protest the delay in relief efforts...but they apparently have no issue with those who would steal, often leaving trapped survivors in situ, because they can't carry a stereo and a survivor at the same time. You wonder where the outrage at their own criminals is, and if they have the energy to protest the rest of the world not coming to their aid, then they should have the energy to beat the snot out of people who are looting at a time like this.

This is a reason why places like new Orleans, or Rwanda, or Haiti become as close to hell on earth as human beings can contrive when disaster strikes. There is often no sense of community, or morality, and certainly no sense of propriety in a place where people are treated like savages, and expected to behave no better. Someone, I'm certain, will point out that that in New Orleans, Haiti and Rwanda, there is a predominant racial stock and then imply I'm somehow being a racist. In fact I would say that fact is mere coincidence, but that what they have in common is a certain culture that rewards ruthless selfishness and in which people are viewed as cattle, incapable of elevating themselves, nor expected to, or in which those who choose to behave in a civilized manner are considered fair game by the great, unwashed masses .

At the moment, that's a problem for another day and one that Haitians themselves will have to sort out. Right now these folks need help, and the unfortunate part of the aid effort is that it will also aid the criminal and uncivilized, as well as the good and deserving.

I looked at a video picture of a little girl who had lost two fingers and couldn't get medical treatment...and my heart broke. Just like it did on September 11 when the children of missing firefighters showed up in front of hospitals with homemade signs that said "Daddy, please come home...".

At the end of the day, it's those kinds of images that stay with you forever. Not the gun-toting thug lifting jewelry from a flattened shopping mall.

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