First you react by trying to imagine the horror and both physical and emotional pain of the event as your world exploded. But then as you realize that those people become engulfed in shock, the stark reality hits you that many will be buried for long periods of time until heavy equipment arrives to roll away the massive stones that have entombed them.
This unfolding tragedy is an assault on our senses, our faith, and everything that keeps us human.
There are so many images, sounds and statistics that overwhelm us with the extent of the human tragedy. But as we were working through this in the early stages yesterday, contacting program and field partners, rallying the support of our constituency and trying to communicate with on the ground personnel, I sensed that a small voice was whispering, crying in a small part of my brain. As I listened with my heart, I realized that there were many voices. It was the realization that there wasn’t just a massive earthquake. There wasn’t just massive infrastructure loss. There wasn’t just large numbers and estimates of deaths.
The voices are real people with stories of families, friends, communities and churches. They lived and breathed, loved and were loved.
Over the past year we have all been engrossed in defending ourselves in the wake of a tough economic downturn. Some suffered through job losses, pension devaluation and for a few, even more difficult times.
My sense is that through this year our focus was largely turned inward, concerned about our future, trying to plan and trying to protect our lifestyle and things.
Maybe Haiti will set us free — from ourselves — for awhile.