Charles Dicken’s fabulous Tale of Two Cities begins with the oft-quoted phrase: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It’s become apparent to me that natural disasters such as the earthquake near Port-Au-Prince, Haiti bring out the “best of humanity and the worst of humanity.” Want some examples? There are plenty but here are three examples of humanity gone awry, followed by some heart-warming examples of humanity gone aright.
The Bad (skip this part if you’re already feeling depressed)
We’re doomed. The earthquake in Haiti has finally proven that the human race is led by morons. Well, not just morons. There are also a whole bunch of really-not-very-nice people trying to tell everyone else what to do.
Now, lest you think I’m showing a lack of compassion towards the Haitians, let me clarify. Surprisingly, I find it very sad that there may be 100,000 fatalities due to the earthquake. And, I think donating aid and money to the earthquake victims is a compassionate and noble gesture.
Apparently, this is not the common view amongst the rich and powerful. Pat Robertson believes it’s the Haitian’s fault for making a pact with the devil. Rush Limbaugh believes that we’ve already donated too much just by paying income taxes and Royal Caribbean doesn’t really care so long as the destruction, looting and death don’t inconvenience their paying customers.
That’s right—in a shrewdly calculated move designed specifically to show that no corporation can be too cold or calculating, Royal Caribbean has decided it will continue to dock its luxury cruise ships at private beaches near Haiti for the enjoyment of its vacationers. I mean, what are they expected to do—cruise an entire sixty miles off course and allow earthquake victim’s to use the ship’s infirmary? Bring food and supplies to the millions of people dying in Haiti because of unsanitary water? Let’s not be unreasonable here—vacationers have rights. You can’t expect them to give up their bingo, all-you-can-eat buffets and margarita’s on the beach just because of a little old earthquake!
No, they’ve made the right decision—just ask Rush Limbaugh. After all, we’ve all already donated too much just by paying our taxes. Besides, helping the Haitians in any way would make Obama look good and we can’t have that. Priorities, priorities. What’s the death of a few hundred thousand people compared to politics?
Pat Robertson is willing to take it one step further. According to Pat it’s really their own fault. If they just hadn’t made that pesky pact with the devil to get rid of Napoleon (Bonaparte that is—not Dynamite). It’s really a moot point anyway since the world ended in 1982—at least according to Pat.
Despite the three creepy people / corporations above, there have been some wonderfully compassionate responses to the earthquake in Haiti. According to CBS News, world governments have pledged $323 million, corporations (of the not-so-cold-and-calculating variety) have donated $139 million. It’s difficult to know just how much individuals have donated in various ways. As of January 15th the Red Cross had received more than $9 million in aid relief donations just from mobile donations.
Finally, someone found a good use for cell phones other than annoying people in restaurants!
Amazingly, the earthquake in Haiti has also brought out the best in news reporters. Not to cast aspersions upon our virtuous journalistic warriors of truth but…all those pictures of people dying, trapped under rubble and screaming for help—someone was behind the camera lens taking pictures. Which means that same person wasn’t helping them out. But, lest we forget, we’re examining the good, heart-warming section here so we’ll focus on the Australians (yes, Australians are always good and heart-warming).
An Australian news team was covering the earthquake in Haiti when they noticed an 18 month old child buried in rubble beside the bodies of her dead parents. Putting aside their news cameras for a moment they climbed into the dangerously unstable rubble and extracted the child from the debris. In a selfless display of humanity, Richard Moran and Deiby Celestino inspire all of us to put down our daily tasks and help the unfortunate. And, according to the Red Cross, many of us have done that through donations.
Governments have pledged aid, individuals have donated and even news reporters have shown humanity. Perhaps, there’s hope for the human race after all!