Haitian Revelations a reflection from St. Edward’s

Every disaster is a revelation. Sudden extremity, deprivation, or fear uncovers for us what is in our own hearts and in the hearts of others. So it is with this latest appalling blow in the long tragedy of Haiti; the hidden layers of who we are, have been stripped bare for all to see, and what is revealed is worthy of both praise and lamentation. We are often told that we are a greedy selfish broken society, but within hours of the earthquake being reported, ordinary people in the UK had given millions. So it seems that for many people fearful self-concern is only a surface, skin deep; underneath still beats the heart of hidden generosity; the compassion and overflowing love which is the image of God in us all.

But if generous hearts were unveiled then so were predatory instincts, deep in individuals and organisations. In Haiti itself crowds of victims scrabbling in the ruins to help their fellow victims were falling prey to gangs of looters and robbers ready to exploit the vulnerable wounded. Likewise hundreds of well motivated individuals who work or volunteer for NGOs; doctors, nurses, firemen, were being flown to the scene of devastation only to find that their efforts were stalled by unseemly squabbles between the very organisations they served; quarrels about  who would have precedence, who would be allowed to get there first, control the airport, be in charge. It was a revelation that for some people in a crisis, their own prestige or that of their organisation is more important than any individual suffering.

What has this disaster has unveiled for you? Doubts and agonies about the place of an all-knowing God? Despair about the world? A sudden spring of generosity and a conviction that human love and solidarity are all that matters? Or a bewildering mixture of all these? Whatever has been uncovered,  bring it all to God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, for he can cleanse whatever darkness is exposed and bring to maturity and good fruition those hidden seeds of goodness  that are surely in us all.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Haitian Revelations a reflection from St. Edward’s

  1. Malcolm, what is happening in Haiti is surely representative of what is the best and worst in all of us; not just now, in the midst of its current devastation, but throughout its history. As I prayed during the first days this tragedy was unfolding, I had a vision of Haiti’s society being rebuilt in a new way and becoming a beacon of hope to the many beleaguered countries around the world. I hope that will be so. There are immediate concerns, but Haiti’s problems run deep, as do those of all of us.

    • malcolmguite

      Yes Ruan, iIagree if we believe that Death and Resurrection is the fundamental paradigm for all things we must pray for a resurrection of hope and freedom for a country that was, after all the first of the slave colonies to free itself by its own efforts. A few hours after I had published this post I came across the following sentence from GK Chesterton, writing about hios experience of jury service: “Tragedy is the highest expression of the infinite value of human life. Never had I stood so close to pain; and never so far away from pessimism.” Those words seem especially apt to this unfolding tragedy.

  2. I agree there has to be a better organized way to get aid to victims of disasters such as this.

    Not to advertise here, I did write an article about this subject, I dont realy care about popularity in my blog, just about the messages that may help reach people.
    http://poetrymakingsomethingoutofnothing.blogspot.com/2010/01/haiti-disaster-human-spirit-of-helping.html

    If you feel it is inappropriate then remove the link, my hopes were to get people into thinking of a more organized way of getting this job done, perhaps a real cooperative consolidated aid and rescue organization should be considered and started, so this never happens again like this, it’s just a shame.

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