Thursday, March 8, 2012
All that glitters is not gold
Haiti has the ability to make you think about things you really don't want to think about. It has the potential to reveal the best and worst in us. A few hours from the U.S. Haiti is the pet project of a massive number of NGO's and church groups, many of which were here long before the earthquake, and yet, Haiti is worse off than it was 30 years ago (not even counting the earthquake). This prompts the question, "What are we actually doing?" I mean, is Haiti the bleeding hearts Disneyland, it's need making us feel needed, so lets not worry about the deeper issues as long as there are orphans to hold? It's not intentional, most of us aren't bad people, but there is something ironic about criticizing TOMS for the negative impact their free shoes have on local economies and the way they help create dependent mindsets, while in the next breath talking about bringing donated sandals out for the at risk kids we work with.
In the last month I've seen massive organizations that do amazing work, I've seen micro organization that do everything they can for those in need, at great personal cost to those in charge. I've been the token white guy that enables kids to get food just because he is white and therefore "trustworthy" with the resources available, while at the same time seen locals refused those resources because the trend of selling food meant for orphans so the higher-ups get some cash has developed, or at least come to light. I've got local friends who say this, as well as much worse stuff, happens. I've been told of Haitian pastors going to America to raise funds for their ministries, and the orphans they take care of, only to spend the donations on private homes new cars and school for their own kids, with hardly a dime going to the kids in the pictures. Some lighter skinned missionaries are far from innocent of these and worse practices.
Money and good intentions are as likely to fix Haiti as a lack of action bolstered by indifference. A friend asked me what I would do for Haiti if I were the president of the United States. I couldn't answer him. I told him the truth, America can't fix things here. At the same time, we can help, we just can't do it in ignorance and with shaded glasses. If we care about God, and at least pretend to be Christians, when we read:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25:34-40
we shouldn't ask "What does this mean?" as if we were that stupid, but "What does that look like where I am?"
I wish I knew how to fix Haiti, I don't, I can't even fix myself. But I hope I can learn how to love God and love the people I'm around.