Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tout moun se noun. (All people are human beings.)

The boys and young men in Port-au-Prince that I have come to think of as my sons are quiet now. I don't know what...or think.

I am quiet, too. I weep, but run quickly into a desolation that has no tears.

My friend Karine is alive. Her brother, though, is under the rubble. Not "dead," but "under the rubble." Sociologists call the social rules that develop at a time like this "emergent norms."

I long to have my Skype ring, my phone or my email box receive a cryptic message from Peter. But I know it isn't possible. Not now. Maybe tomorrow, though I don't expect it soon. Or even necessarily ever. He and the other boys live in the slums, which went down hard. I am not willing to use the past tense yet. I am not willing and I won't. As if my refusal will keep a young pair of lungs buried under concrete moving in and out, a young heart beating.

I stay busy because not to stay busy is to stare into the air in front of me as if it has turned to gel and is creeping up my body toward my nostrils where I, too, will stop breathing. Like the hundred thousand Haitians who were there only a day ago. And now are...not.

Peter taught me to say in Creole, "Depi nou gen la vi gen lespwa. " ("Where there is life, there is hope.") But with so much loss of life, I am losing hope, as well.

May we live this day as sacred. With a reverance for its connections between all humans and all other living things. May we remember always that life is not a given. And may we take every opportunity to bless each other with love.

To see some of the first photos that have come out of Haiti, go here.


changeseeker said...

Dear Readers: A few moments ago, an anonymous commentator left a comment using my real name. I had to remove it because I don't show either my name or my face on this blog. I am, however, going to post the comment here with the name removed:

"I took your Social Problems class last spring. When I heard the news, I immediately thought of you. I can not imagine your grief, which I'm sure is amplified by the unknown. Please keep us updated. You have more people rooting for you than you know. It takes immense courage to touch as many lives as you have, because you then become invested in each one. You have a moral responsibility to be that heroine though, because you're strong enough to be her. Your sacrifices do not go unacknowledged."

Thank you, Anonymous. Your encouragement means more than you can imagine.

Fannie Lou said...

Changeseeker, my prayers are with the people of Haiti and with you. Some things I am seeing/foreseeing through my anti-racist lens a) Haiti is going to be framed in the media as unable to deal with this tragedy because it's poor without an exploration of how France and the US have undermined Haiti's economic and political systems ever since the revolution that created the country (see Randall Robinson's Quitting America and An Unbroken Agony.) b) Help to Haiti is going to be seen as just "aid," not as a small bit of repayment for the country's original revolution so imperialist France that it enabled the US to double it's size through the Louisiana Purchase or reparations from the "first world" for impovershing Haiti. c) Aid will be mixed up with contempt - see Pat Roberston's egregious, decidedly anti-Christian comments about the earthquake being punishment from God and the immediate promise of aid from him. d) The country might be a victim of disaster capitalism - when countries facing disaster are offered aid only if they bend themselves to the will of the aid givers (see Naomi Klein.)

Fannie Lou said...

Oops, "b" should read, "Help to Haiti is going to be seen as just "aid," not as a small bit of repayment for the country's original revolution so IMPOVERISHING imperialist France that it enabled the US to double it's size through the Louisiana Purchase or reparations from the "first world" for impovershing Haiti.

Fannie Lou said...

Sorry to post three comments on your blog - you can make them one post if you like. I thought I should point out I meant my comments in a, "Let's reframe the discussion the mainstream media is generating in a way that salutes Haiti's dignity and powerful role in history, and view this with the gaze of vigilant allies," way, in accordance with the title of your post, "All people are human beings." I hope it didn't come across as pessimism at a time when you need (and deserve) sympathy.

changeseeker said...

Fannie Lou, I'm going to leave your comments separate because I think they make more sense that way. I agree with you on all counts. Stating facts is never a pessimistic stance, however. And while the boys did call me "Mom," they -- not I -- deserve our thoughts and our recommitment, as you say, to change the future for those who survive. I am sad beyond description, which is appropriate under the circumstances, but the beleaguered people of Haiti should be the focus of our attention at this time.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this post ... and the link to the photos.

My prayers are with the people of Haiti...

peace, Villager

changeseeker said...

Greetings, Villager. Thanks for coming by and for your thoughts and prayers.

changeseeker said...

Readers: Here's a perfect example of what Fannie Lou (above) was writing about: Haitians, the vast majority of which have been made penniless and powerless by influences and interests both inside and outside the country, are already being blamed for this nightmare. As if "that's what they get." Whoever participates in this process of vilifying a suffering people should be ashamed and better remember that what goes around comes around.