Leonard Pitts Jr
Devastation in Haiti
(c) Paul Tong
That is ultimately the fundamental lesson here, as children wail, families sleep out of doors, and the dead lie unclaimed in the rubble that once was
Sometimes the rains fall and will not stop. Sometimes the skies turn barren and will not rain. Sometimes the seas rise and smack the shoreline like a fist. Sometimes the wind bullies the land. And sometimes, the land rattles and heaves and splits itself in two.
Sometimes, the earth is cruel.
And always, when it is, we do the same thing. We dig ourselves out. We weep and mourn, we recover and memorialize the dead, we rebuild our homes. And we go on. This is the price of being human. And also, arguably, the noblest expression.
Sometimes, the earth is cruel, and you have no choice but to accept that as part of the bargain called life. And when it is your turn to deal with it, you do.
But what if it's always your turn?
Surely some homeless, dust-streaked Haitian can be forgiven for thinking it is always
Sometimes, though, you have to wonder if the planet itself is not conspiring against this humble little nation.
After 1994, when Tropical Storm Gordon killed several hundred people, after 1998, when Hurricane Georges swept away more than 500 lives, after 2004, when the rains of Hurricane Jeanne claimed more than 2,000 souls, after 2005, when Hurricane Dennis took 25 lives in July and Tropical Storm Alpha snatched 17 in October, followed by Hurricane Wilma, which stole 11 more, after the double whammy of Hurricanes Fay and Gustav in 2008 killed more than 130 people and destroyed 3,100 homes, after all that, comes this latest insult -- and a death toll officials cannot begin to even imagine. Perhaps as many as 100,000, they were saying on Wednesday.
Sometimes, the earth is cruel. To crawl the planet's skin, scanning for tornadoes in
But what else are you going to do? As the playwright put it, your arms too short to box with God. Even less have we the ability to answer the question that burns the moment: Why are the most vulnerable repeatedly assessed the highest price?
We are hamstrung by our own limitations, so we can only do what we always do, only send prayers and help. And watch, staggered by the courage it takes, as Haitians do what human beings always do, the thing at which they have become so terribly practiced.
Dig out. Weep and mourn. Memorialize the dead. Rebuild. Go on. And show the world once again a stubborn insistence on living, despite all the cruelties of the earth.
Earthquake Buries Progress in Haiti
Even before Haiti's massive earthquake, the news from Haiti could seem relentlessly grim, from hurricanes to political violence to desperate poverty. But for the last year or so, things had actually started to look up in the hemisphere's poorest country.
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The January 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, is the first test of the Obama administration's ability to mount a full-scale international disaster response, and it is no ordinary test. Haiti is the poorest nation in the hemisphere, with abysmal infrastructure, struggling to stabilize
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(C) 2010 Leonard Pitts Jr