I went to Haiti on a volunteer trip more than a year ago, and I've only written about it once. I don't talk about it a lot, and I don't think about it as much as I should. The truth is it's easier not to. It's easier not to think or talk about starving children so grateful for even one sip of clean water, of a city center in ruins, of all the brutal stories I heard there about what it was like for those people, when in a matter of seconds, quite literally and figuratively, the whole earth fell apart. Yesterday I was flipping channels, and I came across the Haiti No Reservations, filmed after the earthquake in and around Port-au-Prince.
And there it all was-all of the confusion and sadness and shock that I took home with me. I watched those familiar images of tent cities and impossibly thin toddlers and people with such loss in their eyes, and I was reminded quite forcefully that I don't get to move past Haiti. The reason I went on this trip, the reason I know I will go on more trips like it, is to make it impossible to move on, to forget, to change the channel safe in the knowledge that it doesn't matter in the context of my life. I won't ever get over Haiti, and I don't think anyone who goes to a place like that does. There's too much visceral pain in the air in a place like that, too many ghosts.
The only negative that could ever come out of Haiti for me is if I was able to "move on", to forget. And the scary part is that there are stretches where I do, where all of the faces and the stories blur. But it's not my right to forget all that. I have the easy job. I got to leave, and now the only small part I can play, compared to the massive part others have played in that nation, and compared to the massive burden of its people, is to carry everything I saw with me.
And you know what, I haven't given those Wall Street protesters a lot of thought. I've been apathetic. But thinking of Haiti again, of everything I saw there, makes me want to walk up to those people and punch them in the face. Yeah, the United States isn't perfect. Not everything here is fair. It sucks that so many of us don't have jobs.
But dudes. GET OVER IT. If you're unhappy you have, compared to about 97% of the world, every resource imaginable to change your life. All of us in this nation are so tremendously blessed with the sheer dumb luck of being born here. And I've gone from not caring at all about these protesters to being really ticked off that they waste hours and days of their lives complaining about the unfairness of life in the United States.
We don't know from unfairness. None of us. Not a single one understand what unfair is. Unfair is a country where children die of malnutrition. We've long ago accepted that children die from starvation in this world and I can't for the life of me figure out how that happened-how this impossible fact turned into something intelligent life allows to occur. Unfair is a couple of hundred thousand people dead in a matter of seconds. Unfair is living with a government so corrupt and ineffective that you cheer when that government's main building collapses in an earthquake.
I want all of those protestors to go to Haiti. I want them to see unfair. I want them to talk to the people who lost everything, who have nothing, who have been living in tents for nearly two years, and who have no support to fall back on, no Welfare, no guarantee of treatment in an Emergency Room. And then I want them to stand there, in their hipster knit caps, with their full stomachs that have never known hunger or thirst, and complain about their lot.
I think it's good that I'm angry. I made a mistake in letting myself forget that out of everything Haiti showed me, it's the importance of anger. We can't change all the unfairness in our world. But we can sure as hell get mad enough to try to at least change some of it. Or at the very least yell at obnoxious protesters.