On a good day in Haiti, not even a week ago, the misery of life there exemplified the quintessential description of desperate poverty.
Today, just a few days removed from the worst earthquake to hit that country in 200 years, the weary familiarity of desperate poverty that used to grip Haiti seems relatively desirable now, considering the country’s staggering new dimensions of destruction and death. The tale of woe that's been Haiti's story has now become a serial.
How much lower than the bottom can a country go? For generations, Haiti has been the most impoverished and marginal country in the Western Hemisphere. Corruption, mismanagement of resources, social depravity, and other ills had combined to render Haiti the poster child of opportunity – for missions and relief agencies the world over.
Now, with what infrastructure it had reportedly wiped out, its capital building’s white domes sitting on piles of rubble, and thousands of people dead or missing, Port-au-Prince commands the world’s attention yet again in a race against time.
Racing to find anyone still alive in all of the rubble; racing to mend catastrophic injuries, racing to fix the seaport and airport so relief supplies can flow in more quickly, racing to re-establish some sort of order before militias reclaim the streets, racing to bury the dead before disease sets in, racing to feed both survivors and rescue workers.
What else can anyone say in addition to what’s already been said? Haiti’s plight seems to find new ways of exceeding itself.
This morning, as I enjoyed my warm breakfast safe in my home, I realized how grateful I need to be for everything I have that Haitians do not. It’s no comfort to them, obviously, nor to me either, really. But aside from sending our financial contribution and praying for hope, this is one of those times where all we can do is count our own blessings and realize our own problems can always be topped by somebody else’s.