Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti, we're sorry.

The year got off to a dubious start for us in the Caribbean. In Trinidad, the New Year’s eve parties gave way to Carnival fetes while citizens alternated between looking forward to various activities and the Beyonce “I am” Tour and slunk off to banks and credit unions to apply for loans to fund it all. Those that hadn’t used up all their credit at Christmas time to “nicen up” their houses and splash out on outfits, parties etc; never mind that the word recession has become commonplace.

And then, a massive earthquake struck Haiti wiping out most of that country’s capital city and it’s occupants. It was sobering moment and in between the gaiety, we all looked north and if we were at all honest, while commiserating with our neighbours, gave thanks that it was not us. The US as a first world nation sprang into action. They have well developed plans and execution mechanisms with regard to natural disasters. It wasn’t long before search and rescue teams, army engineers and supplies were on their way. While it would be days before any real aid would be able to get into the country, they put their money where their mouths were and did something.

While CARICOM leaders did what they do best, TALKED about doing something. It’s the usual story; the fiddle hoping someone else will take responsibility for the ills of that country. Instead of providing solid assistance for true development, money is shoveled at them in intervals and we can all forget about Haiti’s problems until the next time.

At least local companies and individuals have mobilized to collect food and supplies while the Government babbles on about assessments and reports. Sure AID agencies like the Red Cross initially was asking for money, the need for supplies would soon grow urgent and those boxes collected would come in handy. At least it makes us feel less helpless and as though we are actually providing help in some small meaningful way.

But it did give rise to a train of thought that was disturbing in light of the global events of the last decade. It has become increasingly commonplace for Mother Nature to get even with us humans. Drought, flooding, earthquake, Tsunamis, we’ve seen a lot of activity. North America and Europe are experiencing one of the worst winters in many years. One of my old teachers used to talk about the balance of life and that nature had a way of equalizing things when populations spiraled. In fact, wars, famine, drought, natural disasters are all considered to be forms of population control.

This conundrum was brought to mind when one of the office greenies was whining about not being able to buy a salad for lunch because it was packaged in a clear plastic container. She was told to consider the lesser of two evils or to bring her own bloody salad the next day. We’ve all been told about the need to be more aware of the damage we’re doing to our planet. However, with the advances in medicine and technology humans have been able to eat up more space and resources. We tell our kids that they can be anything they want to be, but is this really true?

There is a finite amount of space, resources etc on earth. In our quest of lengthen our lives, retain our youthfulness and all those other things we’ve created industries to employ our people which in turn fuels our consumption rates. When you look at our lives, we are greatly influenced by a culture of want thereby increasing our “needs”.

I’m not in any way advocating a return to those days when you died from the common cold and we all grubbed around for our daily meal, I would be first to applaud that life has gotten easier. I love the fact that I can get on a plane and go somewhere or that the chicken I had for lunch did not have to first be chased around the yard and then slaughtered. But it has come at a price. Humans have grown to expect that we are at the top of the food chain and think we will always have it our way, perhaps Nature has other ideas for us or at least we must acknowledge that it comes with a price. And the question we must ask is, can we afford to pay it?

If you can, please give generously to the Haiti relief effort.