"[Who] proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
– Luke 10:36-37
I am growing in awareness of the disaster that struck Haiti one year ago today. And which the Haitian people are still experiencing in their daily lives.
There are a million people in Haiti living in tents. This is a year after, and after millions of dollars have been donated to help the victims of the earthquake.
I was speaking with my neighbor, who is himself Haitian, and he was quite openly disapproving of the manner in which the NGOs (non-governmental relief organizations) have handled the crisis. He visited there sometime around August and was struck by how little had been done to directly help the people of Haiti.
A similar impression was related by my parish priest who had just come back from a visit to Haiti. From his description it seems that the conditions are as if the earthquake had just happened yesterday.
Christian groups – and especially the Catholic Church – have been among the top charities sending funds to help the Haitian people. Haiti is 80% Catholic. Today, Pope Benedict XVI sent an additional aid of one million dollars to Haiti.
If the answer was just to send more money, then there would be reason for optimism. But already billions of dollars have been pledged. Much of that money remains unspent.
Haiti is a reminder to us that there is something terribly wrong with our society. We seem unwilling and incapable to really stretch out a helping hand to our neighbors. We delegate this task to others as if it were something detestable.
There is a huge gulf between the Christian moral teachings that our society professes to believe in and our daily lives. Charity is a word that is despised by liberals and conservatives alike. We are quick to offer excuses as to why this is true.
What seems to be lacking is a real Christian spiritual foundation for our society. And in Haiti we see the consequences of this as it directly effects the lives of millions of people.
Imagine if we were a society that is truly based on the love, faith and charity that Christ taught us. We would never allow our brothers and sisters to suffer like those in Haiti have suffered over this past year.
The world needs to change; we need to examine our lives and our priorities and begin to live like true disciples of Christ. The change begins with prayer, for ourselves and for those in Haiti who are suffering. Once there is a real transformation of our hearts, then God will take care of the rest.
Politics is not going to change the situation; economics is not going to change the situation. It will take a much more powerful force to bring about any real and lasting change.
Please pray every day for Haiti – the young and old, the men and women; especially the poor – those living in tents. Keep them in your thoughts. And ask them to pray for us.