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A Certain Sense of Weltschmerz

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

When I was a little girl, maybe 10 or 12 or so, I was watching the news one evening with my parents. There had been a hurricane or just lots of rain or something, and there had been these fantastically horrible mudslides in Guatemala, and there was this little girl — mostly likely exactly my age at the time — that was stuck up to her neck in the mud. There were rescuers there, desperately trying to get this girl out of the mud. For 36 hours, or maybe even more, they kept this girl above the water and held her head up so that she even passed out for a little while as they dug the mud from around her. But it was too much water, too much mud and eventually the rescue failed. The little girl died. I remember this as if it were just yesterday, for some strange reason. I remember that I cried a lot and seemed to have this personal connection to the young Guatemalan. I think that my parents rethought the concept of me watching disasters on TV.

And of course we are now watching another disaster unfold again — the earthquake that leveled Port au Prince, Haiti. Being the “news junkie” and (as I’ve been accused) “disaster tourist” that I am, I have had the TV on a lot. Because I get most of my news these days from the internet (so, honestly, I don’t have to listen to mindless commentary — I just come up with my own), I have read every news site I can come across and looked at all the pictures and video that I can. I’ve gotten emotional, I’ve donated money, I’ve written a dozen blog posts and then didn’t post them. I barely even know what to say now, except that there seems to be something down in the pit of my stomach that feels horribly bad.

There are many many pictures out there, but as usual, the best seem to be on’s The Big Picture.

Earthquake in Haiti
Haiti 48 Hours Later

Warning: some of the pictures made my heart stop (pictures 21 and 22 on the second set; they warn you though)

Comments like this are just Shite

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Come on, Mr. Robertson, was this really necessary?

A pact with the devil because the Haitians “threw off French colonialism”? So you’re saying, Mr. Robertson, they would have been better off remaining under colonial rule? You know, because I am sure that colonial powers didn’t enslave people and rape the territory of natural resources (dripping with sarcasm!). No, the Spanish, the French and yes, even the Americans never did that in Haiti!

I’d be more apt to say that Haiti’s desperate situation has more to do with the corrupt leaders (Papa Doc, Bébé Doc and most recently Aristide) in the 20th century, their rather unfortunate geographic location in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane zone and the fact that desperately poor begets desperately poor (meaning: if you are poor, you do what you can to survive such as deforestation for firewood, which create land destabilization, which creates mudslides in hurricanes and landslides in earthquakes). Pact with the devil be damned.

I would be more apt to show some compassion such as President Obama’s words: “For a country and a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering, this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible” and not fuel some ridiculous idea that an entire nation is in bed with the devil.