January 22, 2010
The Haitian apocalypse will be known as the largest natural disaster mankind has endured. So far. I don’t want to set the tone of the fist-shaking elder who prophesies doom, but: This, folks, is a test of whether humanity deserves to endure. If we sweep away the horrendous aftermath of that tragedy, and build a monument to the hope and brilliance the species is capable of achieving, we may survive.
But mark these words (she says with the image of a fist in her mind): If we let the world’s corporations suck Haiti up like a failing culture in its death throes, we will prolong suffering in every sense of the word. A former president appeared on television licking his lips at the prospect of the profits. He even said, “Folks, if you want to help, don’t send blankets or water, people. Send cash.”
I see some fairly clear guiding principles for reaching out to help this battered nation:
· Do no harm.
· Pacify the anger and despair with beautiful tents, lots of soap, fresh air, and beauty. Plant crops to nourish huge amounts of people.
· Build roads (one of our fortes) and make them beautiful.
· Build public transportation that is carbon-footprint positive.
· Build safe dwellings in a new style that honors the old, the climate and the soul of the people. They have paid a lot for their freedom.
· Make all dwellings durable for weather catastrophes, Lord help them.
· Teach the people the basics: nursing, construction, public safety, farmers.
· Always Go Green – solar, thermal (duh) and ethical.
· Do not turn this country into a little petro-chemical poisoned island.
· Send in teachers who speak Creole, French and English (train them quickly).
· Children must learn their remarkable history, the natural science inherent in this island, and how to live healthy lives with work they love.
· Build churches in the vision of native leaders. Do not import the dominant world religions as a price one pays for assistance.
· Build a factory to manufacture state-of-the-art bionic limbs.
· Make physical therapy and counseling the cornerstones of the medical system, along with surgery and research.
· Profits should stay within the nation with responsible leaders. Corporations must not do the damage and walk away counting the cash.
· Cherish the children and respect the elders. Harness the remarkable energy of young adults in service to building a new nation that will dazzle the world.
· Nurture a crop of professional disaster relief specialists who will light the dark when the next disaster hits.
· Teach the people the arts – their art, music, philosophers, writers, dancers and actors can illuminate minds and give people the balm of beauty in their roads, homes, villages and farms.
· Clear the debris quickly into natural recreation masterpieces. Learn to build water storage and hydro-electric power stations.
· Heal the wounds with a pure spirit of compassion. Let faith-based organizations blossom here. The second wave of healers should be low-tech, hands-on modalities to help people become stronger.
· Honor the seasons and replant the landscape when the rains come. And they will.
· Someone must take the leadership responsibility to watch over this entire beehive of outreach, and make sure the system stays honest.
It will be a beautiful thing. Let’s make it sure it happens this way.