During the Super Bowl post-game ceremony, Pierre Garcon displayed the flag of his home country, Haiti, for all of the United States to see.
Surprisingly enough, we recognized it; but we probably wouldn’t have recognized Haiti’s flag at any other time. The earthquake that had left Haiti badly shaken was still fresh in our minds, and its images were still burned into our eyes. Now, however, this is not the case.
I do not want to be a downer. Many great things were done by many people. Some went to Haiti and helped out, some organized rations, some raised money and some simply donated. Everyone who helped out should give themselves a small pat on the back. It was wonderful.
But Haiti is gone now. I don’t think I, or most people who are not still directly involved in recovery efforts, could pick their flag out of a lineup anymore.
Where did the enthusiasm go? Where did the coverage go? Where did the compassion go? Why am I writing this article?
This is the question I would like to pose: Is it solely an issue of Haiti being out of sight and out of mind? Are we really as enslaved to the media as this catastrophe has proven? In short, why is Haiti gone?
If you didn’t know, Haiti was a mess before the earthquake struck. It was one of the poorest places in the world, where children died of malnutrition every day, where if you had sandals you were lucky, and where most people lived on less than $2 a day.
And it took a catastrophe to get our attention. Was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake what we needed to tear our minds away from the television sets? Our corny magazines? Our personal problems?
It can’t be denied that we responded. That much is comforting. But now we are back where we started.
Haiti is in the process of recovery in that it is getting back to “normal.”
But normal is when those who actually have a job are sticking pieces of sugar cane in their mouth to dull the pain of hunger.
Normal is when every child’s stomach sticks out, not from having a full belly too often, but from being bloated from having an empty belly always.
What have we achieved?
Why isn’t every professional athlete asking for support for their home? Why aren’t we rallying to help Haiti and other poverty stricken countries on a daily basis?
I think we would all gain something valuable if we were to help –– and not just the giddy feeling you get after helping someone out.
It would help our reputation on a national level, but most importantly, I think it would ground a lot of us. In a country that is overweight, overworked and where everyone has got some sort of over-diagnosed “disorder,” we need to look at what we have. And that’s a lot.
On a social and political level, we really need to take a look at ourselves.
I am not trying to spout self-help nonsense or play up the stereotypical “liberal” idealist movement in any way. The concept of helping has come to be associated with awful stereotypes, ones that have dulled its meaning.
Too many draw back in fear of being a part of some culture they do not want to be a part of. You do not need to wear Birkenstocks, drink coffee in a sweet little shop, try to “find yourself” on a daily basis or play the guitar under trees to care about what is going on around you. Not that any of that is bad; I love sweet little coffee shops.
Instead of letting a subculture claim social change for its own, though, we should strive to become a society that makes change happen.
In an ever shrinking world, everything is around us.
Please pay attention. Deal? And while we are dealing… let’s do something.