I found this little doozy, an exhortation I wrote exactly two years ago tomorrow. The catastrophic earthquake in Haiti had occurred some days prior and I was moved to respond to the reaction of people, government, and media in the US. Let us not forget the plight of the Haitian people who, to this day, still feel the rumblings of poverty that the earthquake only helped amplify.
This just in!
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS STRUCK THE ISLE HISPANIOLA!
The news spreads like fire carried on a breeze
as altruists don their almighty checkbooks
and all of the faithful drop to their knees.
But philanthropic aid come from abroad
can only accomplish so much good
and our fervent prayers to a merciful God
could hardly ever be understood
by a Being who sees all things from above,
each of his supplicants' words and deeds,
who sees how we all take advantage of
cheap labor for our abundance and greed.
We should start by asking tough questions,
like "why was this country poor to begin with?"
and "might disparity of wealth among nations
disprove the global economic progress myth?"
What does catastrophe look like to the poor
when they've suffered each day for hundreds of years
through imperially imposed slavery and war?
Do earthquakes change the taste of their tears?
And how does calamity feel to the poor?
What kind of difference does it really make?
Death and destruction was there long before,
their misery did not begin with the quake.
Thus I submit
Money and prayers are only a start
if we want to see this country turn 'round.
These efforts could never get to the heart
of that which holds the Haitian people down.
What good can our charity do in the end
if oppressive regimes take over again,
if puppet dictators, American "friends",
continue to wield their power with violence?
What good are our prayers for justice and peace
if we can't commit to live by them,
if we keep ourselves distant from all "the least of these"
only til tragedy arouses our conscience?
Let us begin by casting our lots
with our poor, desperate neighbors in Haiti
who have toiled, labored, struggled, and fought
for their independence and prosperity.
May we be a people whose kindness and mercy
come from a place of shalom;
who hear and respond to the cries of the poor -
no matter what country they may call home -
Inviting God's Kingdom come.