I found out about the earthquake in Haiti the morning after it happened. I saw something online about praying or giving to Haiti the night before, but that is not unusual for me, so I did not think about it. Then my mother called wanting to know whether I had information on a friend who was there. I checked Facebook and informed my mother that the friend was apparently fine as people were posting “I am so glad that you’re okay!”s. I did not ask my mother about any of the other people we know in Haiti, because if she had had information she would have given it to me.
After talking with my mother I went back to my job-hunting and Haiti-ignoring. But soon it was impossible to ignore. It seemed that everyone was overcome with horror and trying to do something to help. I could not help but wonder why. I do not have a television and my brain cannot process the difference between the “normal” level of suffering and unnecessary death in Haiti and that which is happening now. I tried to figure out why I was blocking the information. Why was I not caring?
The answer was obvious: I cannot handle it. I have a special Haiti-shaped blinders to keep information away from from me (I also have African filters, a South Asian firewall, etc.). There is nothing that I can do, and so I try to avoid thinking about it.
I finally broke down this morning and rambled on and on to Josh about how there are always children dying in Haiti because they do not have access to basic medical care and how my friend could give her life to take care of them, but I cannot even get a job to give money, let alone get through school to help personally. There is nothing that I can do. It is immensely frustrating because I know that I could help… except that I cannot. In the past I could use things like this as motivation to work harder, but there is nothing to do that I am not already doing.
My only comfort is that others are immersed in images of the tragedy and are giving. And a year from now I will still care about the daily reality of Haitians and maybe, just maybe, I will be closer to being able to do something.
But I cannot really convince myself that it is okay, and so I try to distract myself from the reality of my inability to help. I do not wait and hope, I put my head in the sand and hope.
- I am thankful 1/10/2010
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