Haiti in the Long Run

Most of us have been glued to the news about the immediate assistance to Haitians following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and its continuing aftershocks. We all most likely contributed initially to the Red Cross and other humanitarian aid organizations. Aid is finally arriving but much is still in the emergency phase.

What remains is the larger logistical questions about how to rebuild a devastated infrastructure and how to rebuild entirely differently to provide people with the safety and resilient systems many developed countries are not only used to but expect. What does this massive restoration and innovation mean for the world community?

While there have been many preceding natural catastrophe’s to the collapse of Haiti’s infrastructure, this event has to become a kind of flag and marker for humankind about the much greater work we may share as climate change, entwined with nature’s natural furies, makes Haiti one of dozens of catastrophic events. We cannot let that happen.

While humankind cannot control the natural cycles of the Earth’s systems, we can control how we as a species add to the impact of them. As a Gulf coast resident in Florida, I am eying the predictions for an average of 11 Atlantic storms in the 2010 hurricane season. Haiti is right in their path as well. How will the people there, how will all the countries who are going to be there helping to rebuild Haiti, deal with major storms?

An article in Science Daily recently described how climate change could impact poverty, deepening it by virtue of collapsing food systems due to climate change.

I watch my countrymen and women and representatives in Washington and realize how easily distracted we are by seemingly more pressing problems like health care and jobs. But up the road we need to be charting our next moves to prepare for many more natural disasters. Resilience to them can be seen in a country like ours which has such a high standard of living, so much social and economic infrastructure, that we find it hard to imagine a place where there are no options and everything that could go wrong does.

What hurt the Haitian people so much is poverty. How can we get to work to make sure poverty does not deepen but is turned on its head and becomes a solution? All the people without jobs…all the things that need doing…is there a bridge between these two realities that might create a third: better living standards by investing our time, talent, money, and sweat into GOOD WORK, and in quitting our bickering, deal playing and investment in wars.

For now, I plan to set up an affordable monthly withdrawal from my bank for Haiti relief, however small, and keep it there for the time it takes to get the job done.  What we are investing in is not so much clean-up as raising a standard of living so that whatever may come their way, Haitians will have the resources to protect themselves and to build structures with the latest safety standards and materials that we Americans have come to expect.

Every Haitian child is one of ours, our future in an increasingly connected world community.

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