I was perusing some posts on Twitter earlier today when I saw this picture, which had been re-tweeted 100 times before I passed it along, too. It was labeled as the best picture to come out of Haiti so far, and I couldn’t agree more.
Prior to last week’s unimaginable earthquake, two things always came to my mind when I thought of Haiti. The first was Alicia Silverstone in the movie Clueless saying that “we could certainly party with the Hati-ans” – an accidental mispronunciation that was ultimately left in the movie. The second was of religion. Growing up as a Catholic, I’d grown accustomed to hearing the phrase “…and our sister parish in Haiti” during Mass. While I’ve grown quite far from my Catholic upbringing (at least, as much as anyone can ever do such a thing) for personal reasons, that church – that sister parish – was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news.
I have found it virtually impossible to watch coverage of the immediate aftermath and the relief efforts, for the most part. While I feel that the public has a right to know what’s happening when it affects them and should be aware of what’s going on in the world, I realized on April 20, 1999, as news of the Columbine massacre ripped through the country, that the media is comprised of sharks. I can’t understand why they feel it’s necessary to show us pictures of dead bodies lying in the streets. I’m sure this happened before Columbine, but in the years since then (9/11, Katrina, etc.) it seems as though they have little or no respect for the dead or for the survivors. Their attempts to “shock” us with these images have not only contributed to paranoia, fear, and, ironically, mass desensitization (and they wonder why the youth of America are the way they are), but the act of showing those pictures is, itself, insensitive. I get that, unless we can actually see what is happening there, we really can’t understand what it’s like for those people. At the same time, putting cameras in their faces to publicize their suffering isn’t going to make it any better.
What I love most about this picture is the look in the little boy’s eyes. He looks as though he just sprang up too high from a trampoline and all of these smiling faces were there waiting to catch him. Everyone in this picture is smiling. I know these situations must be so few and far between, but they appropriately juxtapose the tragedy with a sense of hope. Knowing that these types of photos are such a rare occurrence has to make it apparent to the viewer that, amidst all of that rubble that screams of catastrophe, Haiti needs hope. As the days go on, these kinds of photos become less and less likely. While I don’t think the media needs to make it any more difficult on these people than it already is by constantly being present with video cameras and trying to get comments and interviews (these people, after all, have better things to worry about), I think that all the help that we are able to provide should be given.
I also can’t let this post go without commenting on Pat Robertson’s remarks regarding the tragedy in Haiti. I find it pretty disturbing that someone who calls himself a Christian (nevermind a human) can make such heartless and absurd comments such as these. I feel even more compelled to support the cause for Haiti just because I feel as though I’m railing against him in the process. Let me be clear here that I’m not in any way, shape, or form implying that I am only interested in standing up for Haiti out of spite for Pat Robertson and his hate-filled comments. I support this cause even more because of them, because he needs to know that virtually nobody is standing behind him.
Preachy posts aren’t typically my style and that’s not my intent here, either. I simply wanted a space to reflect a little bit on what bothers me about this situation (the media and Pat Robertson) and what gives me hope (that picture). The response has thus far been amazing, but, please, if you haven’t already or if you’re willing to do so again, contribute something. I’m unemployed and I know how tight money is, but even if you can spare $10, you can make a difference. As I’m sure you’re aware by now (but just in case you want some of your resources conveniently presented to you in one spot), you can do this by texting “Haiti” to 90999 and $10 will be charged on your next cell phone bill. If you’re like me and you’re a bit hesitant to text to a non-phone number, you can go the Red Cross donation website, where they’ve added a donation option specifically for Haiti. You can also donate via Hope For Haiti Now. This blog post might sound trite and/or cliche, but I don’t care. I don’t know about you, but I need to see more pictures like the one that I’ve included in this post – more pictures filled with hope and recovery, and we’re the ones who can make that happen. So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is…. do your part.