Why we are so empathic with Haiti

How often don’t we hear that people don’t care? We live in a material world, watching our own belly, living for the clan and the short term, not in the least interested in the sorrow of others. Nonsense! The world has reacted as one solidary team when Haiti fell to pieces. And only yesterday I attended a lecture about the history (and future) of Iran where 500 guests hardly found a seat. Not interested? On the contrary, the suffering of others does inspire  many of us to react.

It is true that some parts of the world, especially Africa, don’t seem to touch our hearts. The Congo? Zimbabwe? Guinea? Who cares (in Europe and the US?).  An exception may be the Sudan, although there is more written than done when it comes to finding a solution for the year old internall conflicts that killed tens of thousands of Sudanese. One wonders why such massive material and spiritual help for Haiti, and why almost only semi diplomatical activity for Darfur. Guilt? Do we realize we left Haiti out? Out of any development scheme, out of education, out of health care? Why, one wonders, does next door Dominican Republic do so well and has Haiti always been a social and ecomnomical disaster? Different races? So what. Different ambitions? Every parent want the best for its kids, including Haiti. The sudden confrontation with so much misery and so little infrastructure shocked the world. How could we let it happen? And then we reacted. The US promised to take care of Haiti in the future, with or without Voodoo. Indeed, there may lay the answer to the Haiti mystery: never underestimate Voodoo in countries with an African origin  or -for that matter- in Africa itself. Don’t laugh, it existst (and it works). I have recently seen a hotel in West Africa that had to be rebuilt three times because it fell apart after every modernization. Again and again….by itself.  Well, not entirely. The owner refuses to get the blessing of the local witch. Everybody knows what that means: the hotel will never open its doors. So talk to the witches in Haiti first and get them on our side. The question is whether they will accept foreign influence in their hearts of darkness. I think not. Thus Haiti will keep on going its own way, whatever we plan for them. And comiung to think of it, maybe that is its charm. The one and only place on earth that will for ever refuse to grow up.

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