Maintain Compassion For Haiti

by Jake Hawkins

The other night I was watching CNN and some horrible images came across the screen. First I saw huge pits full of dead bodies, and then the screen showed a dump truck depositing even more dead bodies into the pits. Out of context I would have only associated such horrendous images with the Holocaust. It was, however, video shots directly from the disaster-stricken Haiti.

After seeing those horrifying shots I turned the TV off and explored my thoughts for a while. I thought of the Edwidge Danticat family that I and all other first-years read about in FLA I in the autobiography “Brother, I’m Dying,” and then I thought about the Holocaust. I remember thinking that Haitians were at least better off than those that suffered during the Holocaust because they had the attention of most of the world and all of America – or at least anyone who has any contact with a news source. I was proud of the fact that Americans everywhere were opening their hearts to help Haitians.

Since that night, my thoughts have unfortunately changed. Some people, in an act comparable to denying the Holocaust, are denying or downplaying the needs of Haitians.

I have heard people expressing their aggravation with the continuing news coverage of the Haitian disaster. I have heard people throughout campus scorn the U.S. government for sending so much aid when “Americans at home are suffering from an economic crisis.”

Originally I thought these were isolated occurrences of nonsupport for Haitian relief. However, last week I was horrified to read what Matthew Hardin said in the Transy Says section of the Rambler, denouncing support for Haiti on the grounds that “safeguards to ensure the proper use of such funds have been thrown by the wayside.” Further denouncements from Hardin on Haitian support came when he explained that it wasn’t the role of our military to help organize Haitian relief.

While the issue some people have with so-called excessive media coverage isn’t necessarily deplorable on its own, I urge people with those thoughts to stop and think. Yes, our media does have an urge to focus majorly on one issue for long periods of time, but at least this possible flaw is being used for a good cause. I would much rather hear about the ongoing struggle in Haiti than the newest episode in the “John & Kate Plus 8” drama. Thanks to the “hype,” tens of millions of dollars have been raised for Haiti relief, money that will be used to save and better the lives of citizens in a country that so desperately needs it.
NBC’s Brian Williams said it best Tuesday night on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with John Stewart.”

“If we weren’t there working and sending out the pictures and telling the story the world doesn’t know about it. The world knowing about it triggers billions of dollars given to that cause,” Williams said.

To the others who claim, for whatever reason, that we (both individually and as a country) shouldn’t be donating – well, I find that as despicable as I find those that claim the Holocaust never happened. First of all, if you can find the single American who was hit worst by the economic crisis, they will probably be better off than the average Haitian was before the earthquake hit.

Those who think it isn’t “our job” should stop and look at their logic, or lack thereof. If it isn’t our job, whose is it? Helping Haitians, our fellow humans, is everyone’s job. Every country who has any means whatsoever should help in whatever way it can – let alone our country, one of the world’s superpowers.

Finally, to those among us who question where the money is going: stop freaking out. I think some people are under the false notion that large amounts of cash are just being handed over to the Haitian government when that is not the case. When you donate, you are donating to a specific organization: the Red Cross, Partners in Health, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, to name a few. The Red Cross and Partners in Health are long established groups that have reputations as strong as they are because of the way they use donated funds. The newly established Clinton Bush is part of a long-established tradition of former President-operated charities, a tradition known for its great philanthropic enrichment.

I urge all of you who hold some of these negative opinions towards Haitian relief to quickly change your attitude. Show some humanity by expressing compassion toward fellow humans in dire need.


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