Skip to content

Dogged by the need to “do something”

15 January 2010

The world-wide response to the disaster in Haiti has shown the best side of humanity, but the nature of the response sometimes leaves much to question.  David Brooks simplistic (and racist) column in the New York Times about the need to “fix” a culture the United States had more than a hand in breaking, unleashed a pack of negative comments.

Although Brooks’ overly simple view of Haiti is less ahistoric than, say, Pat Robertson’s, it is typically “American”.  Remember that Barack Obama, asked about criminal prosecution of those who order the torture of innocent people in Iraq and elsewhere, an issue of vital importance to restoring the prestige of the United States in most of the world (especially in those countries like Iraq where it seeks to overcome it’s perception as a heavy-handed and unwanted intruder) said “We need to move forward, not back”.

In other words, for people in the United States, history, the collective esperience of others, is inconsequential to the United States.  And, eventually it rebounds on them.  Put aside the massive human toll in Haiti (up to 500,000 in a country of only about five million, compared to the 10,000 or so killed in Mexico in the 1985 quake which changed the political and social system of a functioning relatively strong state) and the expected refugee/emigration crisis (which companies like GEO group already hope to profit from), consider the massive economic losses to the United States.

Haiti’s history, and it’s future are tied to the economy of the United States.  And that of the United States to Haiti.  “Moving forward”, as Mr. Obama might say, there is no way a nation indebted since that pact with the French that gave them their freedom, and still recovering from the 1915-34 U.S. occupation, the U.S. sponsored coups of the later 20th century and more occupation, can repay any funds owed to U.S. institutions.

Esther (From Xico) — good human that she is — acts locally and thinks globally.  Her response to what she saw as a local need.   Thinking about Brooks’ bone-headed column led her to consider her own foray into “foreign aid” .  The project never came to fruition, but — wiser than many — she learned to work within the local community.

Living here in Mexico for coming up on four years, I realize that we moved into a colonia where there is a social fabric in which we were foreign and peripheral, at least until recently. The social worker in me (the me who thinks I always have to be doing something “useful”) wanted at first to try this or that project.  People were really nice.  But they weren’t really interested in ME doing things. One of the things I thought about was a dog sterilization project.  MY efforts got nothing but very friendly conversations with various people who said indeed, the dogs should be neutered. However, because people aren’t really ignorant, and with no input from me, the Oportunidades program brought information on dogs and health to the community.  A bit later than that, the government brought a dog neutering project to our Social Salon, and it was very successful.  Again, I had nothing to do with it. Previous to that program, I helped our neighbor bring some of her dogs to a vet in San Marcos who did it for free voluntarily in a little building behind his house.  HE told me that a lot of people in our Colonia had been bringing their dogs to him.  The government also gives free rabies vaccines a couple of times a year.

No comments yet

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: