I’m sure you’ve all heard about the tragic earthquake in Haiti by now. If you haven’t, I’m not sure how you managed it. It’s hard not to notice when the expected death toll is somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 people.
I hadn’t written about it yet because I didn’t know how to write about it. I’m still not sure how to write about it. But I feel the need to try.
As is typical for me, as soon as I heard about it, after the initial shock and horror and sorrow, my thought was “How could I get there to help?” Are relief organizations taking volunteers? Are churches organizing to get groups of people together to get in there to help? Am I fit enough to help move rocks from the road and try to find survivors in the rubble? If I took a week of vacation from work to go to Haiti, how would I get into the country to help those poor, devastated people?
And the truth of the matter is that I’m not an appropriate person to go to Haiti to help right now, even if I could find a way in. I’m not skilled in the sort of work that needs to be done right now. I’m not physically fit for the sort of work an unskilled laborer would be doing to help. And being there would make me one more person who needs a place to sleep, food to eat, and water to drink in a country already filled with hundreds of thousands (or is it millions?) of people who have none of those basic necessities.
Beyond that, I don’t want to be the person coming back from that mission. I don’t want to be the person who has seen that much pain and suffering. I don’t want to be the person who walked along roads with bodies piled up and buried under collapsed buildings and who could do nothing but learn to accept that reality. I don’t want to be the person who went to that city and had to learn how to accept that more people will die today from complications from their injuries, injuries that could have been saved with proper medical treatment; people will die from lack of food and water because the supplies couldn’t be distributed to the people who need it the most; people will die because I couldn’t help them fast enough, with the right skills or the right supplies. I don’t want to be a person who can accept death on such a colossal scale and not be crushed under the sorrow of it all.
I’m not brave enough to be that person. I would be broken so deeply, and have to become so hardened against it, that the woman who returned would not be the same woman who left.
My heart breaks for Haiti. I’m praying for the people there and all the people going in to provide help. Part of me says that I should get over the fear, go, and become a stronger person through it. But I’m not sure I could withstand the shattering.