Monday, March 15, 2010
Dear Haiti, Sorry For Showing Up Late
I am ashamed as I write this letter to all of you who have needed my help for so long. I am ashamed that it took a catastrophe for me to acknowledge my responsibility. It should not take a natural disaster for the first world to open up our hearts and pocket books to help a most impoverished country. I am so sorry for my lateness arriving at this revelation.
I live in Canada, and like most in my country I complain of the high cost of living without any real comprehension of the unaffordable. Most of us and our children are not working for our daily survival and the survival of our family. Most of us have never experienced what it means to truly go hungry. We are all so removed from your reality. We are comfortably removed to be honest.
"Reality TV" has taken over our televisions by storm which is perhaps one example of where our priorities lie. This is the reality we are comfortable acknowledging. We'd rather watch idiots act out their lives on tv than demand something meaningful, or even containing actual talent. We have grown very empty and complacent. In a world of fast food, empty programming, and mind numbing advertising where could you possibly fit in? Of course it took a natural disaster. It took something we couldn't avoid.
We like to believe we are helpless. We struggle against the slogan "One person can make a difference." It mocks our laziness. We'd rather believe "everything happens for a reason". This we can support. There is a divine reason for all suffering. I'm sure that will be a great comfort to you as you bury your husbands, wives, parents, siblings and children. It is a great comfort to us, because it takes our human responsibility out of the equation. We can pretend to be ignorant. We don't want to know your misery is our responsibility. We don't want to know that we are the same and the only real difference between us is that we were born into privilege. Undeserved privilege. If there is a divine reason behind it all, it was meant to be that you should starve, and we should grow large with indifference.
You were starving and in pain, and we ignored it. We ignored it for too long. We have ignored others too... Darfur comes to mind. It is a mystery that we are not mobilized into action. I am truly sorry for my own lack of response. I have no excuse. What would I expect if my family were destitute and dying? I would expect relief. I would expect help. I would expect more than I have given to you.
Much love, and my deepest regrets for my late arrival. I promise to do better from this day forward. This may be of little consequence to many, but if one person can make a difference why not me? What do any of us have to fear by giving a little more?
Sincerely, Jessalyn Rodenburgh
Image from the ny daily news http://www.nydailynews.com/latino/2008/07/21/2008-07-21_slow_aid_delivery_failing_farms_deepen_h-1.html