We turn on the television or surf the net and we are greeted by the devastation of the Haitian earthquake. We have all seen their hollow faces, sitting on the street, the children looking around with a penetrating sadness in their eyes. We don’t know their stories, but we feel pity and stop momentarily. I’ve paused and felt sadness and then without hesitation returned to my normal, suburban life. I’ve done this at least many times in my life, through events like the Southeast Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
On January 11 when news of the earthquake first hit the media, I felt the same pity, but still returned to making dinner for my family. In one ear, though, I listened, as the reporters stated that almost 50,000 Haitians may be dead, even more missing, and that the country was already on the brink of disaster.
I listened, and like most people, I want to help, but I don’t know how. I am limited by my own circumstances, my own family and my own selfishness. I am not going to get on a plane and fly to Haiti to offer my services. I don’t have any skills that could be useful to people in this type of crisis. So I had my own crisis of conscience – Do I just do nothing?
I know inaction is the easy way out. Because it is not happening to me or my loved ones, it doesn’t exist. But it does exist. It exists a million times over everywhere in the world. I’ve been pondering the consequences of doing nothing. I know it is not acceptable. So I’ve decided that, when you can’t volunteer your time, your skills, the very least you can do is to donate your money. Even a small donation may reach out to someone. I am in a fortunate situation where I know someone who is going on a plane and flying to Haiti to offer her medical services. I know that my donation to her will get to the right people or it may not, but I have to make that leap of faith. We sometimes, as crooked as our perceptions are about donating money, have to put our faith in something beyond ourselves and at least attempt to help in whatever way we can.
So as a collective show of support, I will be donating on behalf of everyone who leaves a comment on this post through January 18th. I know some of you will not be inclined to leave a comment, but please do. I don’t have all of the answers so please let me know your thoughts on how to best help those in need.