>Western Tribune column January 20, 2010 – Haiti

>My column from the Western Tribune on January 20, 2009, regarding the earthquake in Haiti.

The 7.0 earthquake that occurred in Haiti last week is not the first major seismologic event to occur in that country. Recorded history tells us that in 1842 a major quake struck in north Haiti, destroying the city of Cap-Haitien and killing thousands. Geologists are able to document many quakes prior to that which affected Haiti as well as other Caribbean islands.

Televangelist Pat Robertson, quick to assign blame whenever a natural disaster occurs (and sometimes before they occur), said that a long time ago the enslaved Haitians made a deal with the devil in order to gain freedom from the French. He said that ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.

Robertson is referring to the Bois Caiman ceremony, a poorly documented event that some scholars doubt is accurately remembered, in part because the earliest account was written by a white man who may have had an ulterior motive in denigrating the slaves.

If Haiti is cursed, it is not because of the sacrifice of a pig centuries ago, rather it is because it lies above the boundary between the Caribbean and the North American Plates, and these geologic plates are always moving.

Nature does not take sides and certainly natural events do not occur in response to ritual religious practices that may or may not have occurred centuries ago.

But as certain as we can be that devastating events will occur, we can also assure ourselves that Americans will respond generously. The rebuilding of Haiti will take years, but right now the major need is for medical relief and money for supplies. The best thing we can do is offer our prayers and donate money to The Red Cross or another reputable service organization. In addition, President Obama has called on former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to head our country’s effort and you can support them online at ClintonBushHaitifund.

President Clinton, who honeymooned with his wife in Haiti in 1975, stated that hopefully as the city of Port au Prince is rebuilt, it can be done using better materials and with better construction techniques that will reduce the loss of life and injury should future earthquakes occur. But that type of construction will cost more money, so our assistance will be needed for years.

Let’s be there for Haiti. Let’s stand behind Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton in this huge humanitarian effort.

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