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What does the Haiti earthquake mean to and for Baltimoreans?

When one looks at the history of Haiti, one has to ask if there is any political, civil, socio-economic, physical, natural or other disaster that has NOT been thrown against this island nation in recent history. Not very long ago, Haitians were eating mud because of island-wide starvation. It is infinitely appropriate that our human, material and spiritual resources be directed to help heal the devastation and loss the people of Haiti – those that have survived – have experienced from this earthquake. From the standpoint of spirituality, the question is “Why?” From the standpoint of being a Baltimorean, the question is “Where?”

A fundamental concept in most religious and spiritual systems is that everything happens for a reason…all things unfold in divine order. From this premise, it becomes necessary to ask why this catastrophe had to take place. Most people guided by faith may say we will never know, or even that it is not our place to know. It is possible, however, to give this question some thought and arrive at the beginnings of an answer.

If the universe is ordered on balance, then this event has to have taken place either to strike a balance or to facilitate the striking of balance. Arguments could be made for either reason, but as we should always choose first to grow personally from any information presented to us, the basic answer should first come from introspection. A recent email from a Baltimore-born friend conveyed how her W-9 starkly reflected the decrease in her 2009 income. The message then ended with “…but then I think about Haiti and I know to count my blessings.”

The night falls to let the sun herald a new day. The lights go out so that the reality that only exists in darkness may manifest. At this troubling time, the headlines bemoaning the local unemployment rate and the declining Baltimore economy have, for a little while, been replaced with the reminder that what most Baltimoreans have is truly an abundance relative to millions of fellow human beings. On one level, the suffering in Haiti helps one balance the experience of suffering in Baltimore, and the outpouring of donations reflects the shift of people of all levels of consciousness from “What don’t I have?” to “What can I give?” The light may be unseen but it is always present…even in darkness.

The question of “Where?” refers to the direction of Baltimore-area resources in response to the earthquake. According to their website, Catholic Relief Services – based on Lexington Street in Baltimore – has sent 300 relief workers to the island and pledged $5 million in other aid. The Baltimore Afro’s website has a link to a list of Haitian charitable organizations – including some to which one can donate by text message (http://www.afro.com/tabId/551/itemId/5888/For-Haiti-Ways-to-Helpbr-br-iAid-organiza.aspx). With a disaster of this magnitude, anything one sends to Haiti will be appreciated and any gift one makes toward aid will matter deeply. This is as it should be, but there are victims of this devastation that only Baltimoreans can help make whole: the locally-based family and friends of Haitians trapped or killed by this act of nature.

It may be weeks or more before Haitians around the world and within Baltimore get word of family and friends, and then the news will more often be bad than good. In addition to fulfilling the need the whole world should fill, Baltimoreans can fill a need that only they can fulfill. Contact at least one Haitian resident of Baltimore you may know. Seek one out if you don’t know one – there are probably fewer than six degrees of separation among Baltimoreans. Identify a person or family and hold them in prayer and meditation for peace of mind and trust in the Creator’s will. Most importantly, tell them as often as possible about your prayers for them and your visioning for their highest good so that, even in this terrible darkness, they will know they are being surrounded by the bright light of love.

Perhaps this kind of increase in the direct human manifestation of unconditional love is why the Creator reminds us from time to time that the massive power to create through love will strike a cosmic balance against even the most massive destruction. Get the message, Baltimore, and spread it throughout this city, this country and the world.

Comments

  • Jackie 4 years ago

    Eraka—thank you for your insightful perspective. Many people are questioning God or grappling with whether or not they have the right to do so. Unable to find the words or explain how I have been jarred by Haiti's horrific tragedy, I instead, have gone inside and asked: How ought this change me and the world I live in, why is this suffering deemed different from Sudan, Iraq, or anywhere else people are being terrorized by human kin or other natural forces? For whatever the reason, the Universe “keeps” pointing our attention to a tiny nation, neighbor, and the resilience of its people. So what is it that we are not seeing? My highest hope is that we will not just throw money at this, wipe our hands, and then be done. Whether we like it or not Haiti has branded us and looking away is no longer an option.

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