Brokenness Everywhere

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version borrowed from AP, and

A friendly reader recently posted a comment to my Avatar blog about the depression that has overtaken many viewers. Stricken by the “Avatar blues,” people are realizing that the ideal presented about life on Pandora is unattainable. Well, I have two things to say about this: (1) the images presented in Avatar were neither revolutionary nor ideal when you dig beneath their beautiful surfaces. And, (2) if there’s something to be depressed about it should be the recent natural disaster in Haiti. According to Rene Preval, the now homeless Haitian President, it is estimated that the devastating quake took over 50,000 lives and injured 250,000. "We need medicine. We need medical help in general," Preval told CNN. "Some of the hospitals, they collapsed." Nearly 3 million people are estimated to have been affected so far. Unreal…

Why is it that we can become so enthralled with a far off fictional land while completely ignoring the devastated one that’s all too real and just a few hundred miles away? In Haiti’s case, ignorance is nothing new. It’s not bliss either. Just yesterday evangelical spokesperson Pat Robertson explained the Haiti earthquake as God's punishment for Haitian slaves' “pact with the devil” to win freedom from France. The Christian Science Monitor reports that Robertson’s spokesman added context the comments: Haitians conducted Voodoo rituals before a slave rebellion against the French in 1791. These comments are the latest chapter in historical controversy regarding the U.S. policy on Haitian migrants within my own lifetime, particularly those attempting to reach the United States by boat. For years Haitians have been turned back from our borders because they’re not considered political asylum seekers, but cursed, poverty-stricken and diseased black people trying to infiltrate our land. Unconscionable…

Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western world. Plagued with "political violence for most of its history," according to the CIA World Factbook, the country has endured over two centuries of colonialism, coups and corruption since becoming the first black republic. The 1991 military coup d’etat deposing Haiti’s first democratically elected President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, challenged the assumption that all Haitian boat people were economic migrants. This caused a huge debate in the U.S. State Department over whether they should be forced to return given the strong condemnation of the coup by the United States and the Organization of American States. The other issue debated at the time was whether the Haitians posed a national security risk because they were allegedly carriers of the HIV virus and AIDS. Unbelievable…

I’ll never forget the pictures I saw in late 1991 of approximately 450 Haitians being held on Coast Guard cutters while the administration of then-President George H. W. Bush considered the options. They’re eerily reminiscent of those I saw near my home in NYC after 9/11 and of pictures taken shortly after Hurricane Katrina did her worst in 2005, of people looking for loved ones amidst the rubble. Today’s tweets from @breakingnews, @latimes, @CNN, @GregMitch and @Wyclef remind me of those I read last summer from Iran. Brokenness everywhere. People are setting tires on fire to light up the streets and powerless buildings. Of the many images I saw today from the now non-existent Port-au-Prince, perhaps the one that affected me most was of a woman who, with her hands behind her head in abject defeat, simply stared at the horizon in tears (top right). I cried too. All I could think was that foxes have holes and birds have nests, but human beings have no places to rest their heads. Unbearable…

So, what’s being done to meet this urgent need? Reports from The New York Times and Associated Press reveal that The World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders deployed specialists to help with huge numbers of casualties and corpses and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it is preparing to help a "maximum of three million people." The World Food Program pledged to contribute 15,000 tons of food. The U.S. is sending ships, helicopters and transport planes. Financial help is on the way too. The World Bank will allocate an additional $100 million to Haiti, Brazil will send $10 million and the Red Cross is hoping to raise another $10 million. Everyone from the United Nations to our own Bill and Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Wyclef Jean and Brangelina are on board. Tiger Woods alone is reported to have donated $3 million. Unprecedented...

Are you and I also on board? Will we take advantage of this opportunity to show the Haitian people that they are our brothers and sisters? That they’re no longer going to be ignored, without places to rest their heads? The ways to respond are numerous. We stop being so complacent. We spread the word throughout our social graphs. We find out as much as we can. We send relief. We give of our personal finances to charitable organizations. We give of our time. We enter reality. We go to Haiti. We pray. We become unstoppable...


Amazing "on the ground" report

I saw this in The New Yorker today and thought you and your readers would be interested.

~Lindsay D.

Why Avatar exists

When our imaginations are more fascinating than the pain and suffering we are afraid of experiencing--even through the disconnect that is the Internet and media, we have Avatar as a guilty pleasure to ease our minds and emotions. Indulging in fantasy is okay, as long as we remember to check in with reality.

Haiti, Earthquakes & God

How do we respond when there is an earthquake? Over the years, I have heard many comments that I believe are misinformed, ill-timed and/or misstated on this subject.

In the past, some have implied that God’s judgment was involved in the tsunami of 2004 that killed over 200,000 and in Hurricane Katrina that destroyed New Orleans. I just heard a national Christian leader state that Haiti had a pact with Satan and therefore cursed; and this implied that the recent earthquake is God’s judgment...

I personally do not believe that God wants to kill people via earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes. I believe that God wants to save people.

--David Hino

A Response to Robertson

Here's a strong response to Robertson's comments that you and your readers might find interesting.

~Kelly H.

Limbaugh, Haiti & "Light Skinned" Obama

Hi Marcia! Given your recent posts I thought you and your readers would find this article about Limbaugh's comments on Haiti and Obama of interest. Keep up the good thinking and talking.



My heart and prayers go out to the people of Haiti, what's depressing is being limited to a "5" or "10" dollar text message as helping. I wish I could be there helping to dig out the people that's trapped or helping to clear the roads. Haiti has always needed humanitarian help, unfortunately it takes a disaster for the world to reach out to the poor. I pray that the people of Haiti quality of life will ameliorate as it rises from the ashes.

How To Get Involved

The State Department has set up a number for those who wish to seek information on those loved ones who are in Haiti:


For those interested, the Earthquake Haiti Facebook group can be found here:

If you would like to make a donation to Haitian earth quake relief, here are just a few links and numbers:


V-Day's Haiti Rescue Fund

The American Red Cross:
PO Box 37243

Here is a link to a piece Don Hazen of AlterNet wrote this morning with some additional suggestions:
Washington DC 20013

Doctors Without Borders:

Operation USA:


Oxfam America:

If you wish to make a donation to World Vision, log in at

You may also donate $10.00 to be charged to your cell phone by texting "HAITI" to 90999

To make a "super immediate" (according to AlterNet) $5.00 donation, text "YELE" to 501501.