[There's something definitely amiss....I've written two posts that seem to have disappeared into thin air. I prepared them as a draft and then did a 'save' rather than publish straight away (I wanted to look up a reference to see if I'd remembered something correctly) only to find, when I went to the Blogger dashboard that they'd gone! Not that they're any great loss actually, more of an exercise in putting thoughts into words and seeing if they were coherent or represented that mental babble that goes round and around in your head, promises much, but delivers little.]
Along with a great many other bloggers, I find myself constantly confronted with distressing images from Haiti of the bloated dead, untreated dying, distraught survivors and widespread destruction. What I am finding more disturbing than these (if that is possible) is the positive relish with which the media seems to treat these disasters. It reminds me of a television series that used to be on a number of years ago, where such events were treated as a chance to raise one's profile by producing an item of captivating journalism, and to that end one of the more repulsive characters used to carry round a baby's bootee to place upon a pile of rubble in order to create a poignant picture opportunity.
But the scale of the human suffering is terrible, and possibly all the more so for its sudden and acute genesis. In truth, Haiti has been a disaster area for years which the west has blithely ignored even though it is practically on the doorstep of one of the major superpowers. How could that be? Well, obviously Haiti has nothing that its wealthy neighbour wants. Despite being occupied by the US from 1915 to 1934, it was left with nothing more enduring than a massive debt to the US banks that has meant that the country's money has haemorrhaged from its coffers in repayment rather than shore up its own infrastructure. Many of its people are poor subsistance farmers, lacking the most basic necessities. Malaria, tuberculosis and water-borne disease are rife. But now that there's been a conspicuous natural disaster, governments are knocking each other out of the way to be the first to give, give, give. It must be an absolute boon for countries with faltering governments to take the spotlight off their own failings and recast them in a glow of humanitarian touchy-feely support, complete with suitably impressive rhetoric and promises that - let's be honest - not one of the voters will remember even six months down the line. The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.
Still, this horrendous event will do just what all the others have done (be they flood, hurricane, tsunami or earthquake): give politicians and the public a chance to feel God-like and pretty good about themselves for an instant. But any improvement that is wrought for the Haitian people will be as a result of long-term, low-level, off-camera commitment aimed at enabling them to improve access to healthcare and literacy, not a one-off, guilt-induced, knee-jerk online donation to mop up the immediate distress.