Geoffrey Philp - Two More Ways to Help With Haiti Relief

And you know that I'll be buying into the first of them for sure!!! Via Geoffrey Philp.

I'll be making a contribution to Cafe Cocano because it represents some of the things in which I believe: the ability of Caribbean peoples to overcome any situation and that we are responsible for creating the changes we want to see. Unless we (InI) do it for ourselves, nothing will happen.***Because I also believe in the power of the Word and that with giving, we can also speak/write/do great good, I'm recommending a site--thanks Randy!-- VWA{Poems for Haiti):VWA: Poems For Haiti was created by Caper Literary Journal as a way to inspire people to think about the tragedy in Haiti. We want people — readers and writers alike — to generate hope through a time that is very dark. We have luxuries many do not, and though some of us cannot help in major ways, sharing your work in the name of their pain and strength is something we can do. VWA, the kreyòl word for voice, aims to turn the pain and inspiration into literary works.via Two More Ways to Help With Haiti Relief.

The Bahamas & Haitians -

People who read this blog regularly know that Rick and I rarely agree on anything, and that when we do it's a cause for commemoration. But there is not one thing in this article with which I take issue.Here's just a taste:

There has always been a love hate relationship between Bahamians and Haitians. We love them when they do the physical labour we don't want to do, but hate them when they start to aspire to do more for themselves.When we consider the reactions to the government documenting and releasing 119 Haitians from the detention centre here as a result of the earthquake devastation to Port au Prince, Haiti one wonders how we can call ourselves a "Christian" nation.via The Bahamas & Haitians -

Go read the whole thing.

How we Bahamians are helping

All right, enough responding to the inappropriate reactions of Bahamians to the Haitian earthquake. You know what the old people say: don't mind the noise in the market, just mind the price of the fish. So what the fish costing these days?

I thought I'd start a list of things that ordinary Bahamians are doing. As often happens, people involved in doing good are too busy working to make noise, and so it's easy to get distracted by the more vocal among us and imagine that we Bahamians are not giving or assisting. So I thought I'd make a list of what we are doing. I am absolutely certain that I will miss many people out, so I invite anyone who wants to add to this list. Let's make it as long as we can. (I've got a list over on FB too but let's push it here to the blog, where it can last for a long long time).

We can start with these:

Use the comment thread to post more info! (one note - please be patient when you post your comment - you need to have had a comment approved for it to show up immediately -- if you're a first-time commenter your comment will be held for moderation till I approve it - but be patient, I will!)

How not to lead a nation

Before I post this, let me say two things. First, I have been informed by a reliable source (one of the editors) that the Tribune was not responsible for writing the article whose headline I slammed; it was an AP story that they re-ran as the lead.And second, I am trusting that by reposting this I will find someone who will tell me that this is not what my Prime Minister actually said (the emphases are mine).

Ingraham added: "It is not appropriate for us to be collecting goods to send to Haiti because there is no means by which we can get [them] there. The port is in terrible shape. The airport is difficult to navigate. The ground transportation is terrible. The extent to which we in the region can provide assistance in terms of medical support, doctors, nurses, public health, pay for medicine, food, water, whatever it is, we are clearly prepared to do so."via The Nassau Guardian Online

Here's my problem. If this is what he said, the message that our Prime Minister is sending is that it is all right to allow practical impediments get in the way of help. It is OK to let the fact that it's difficult (not impossible, as Miami has demonstrated by getting Channel 10 news crews in and survivors out, or as Jamaica has demonstrated by flying its PM and the leader of the Opposition in) to get planes and boats into Haiti stop us from giving whatever we can. It's OK for us, the wealthiest and most fortunate independent nation in our region, to keep our wealth and fortune to ourselves in this time of great need because it's hard to do something different.I cannot think of a worse message to be sending to a group of people already hidebound by greed and fear. I hold my leaders responsible for setting standards of behaviour. If this is what he said, our Prime Minister just gave his people license to exercise selfishness, to continue to breed prejudice, to continue to choose greed over generosity, to continue to seek the easiest paths to comfort.I hold our leaders responsible for the way in which some of us behave. The stands they take influence the attitudes we display; monkey see, monkey do after all. I am calling on all responsible Bahamians in positions of influence and power to behave as they know we should all behave, to encourage us to make every effort to find ways to get to Haiti, to encourage us to give and give and give until it hurts, to ask us to share our wealth a little more, to ask us to give up a little of our comfort and safety to build true community and nurture compassion with our neighbours. I am calling on all talk show hosts to refuse to allow more hate and fear to infect the air waves, on all politicians to think about what is right instead of what is expedient and to model it, to all teachers to model the highest standards for behaviour, to all administrators to exercise fairness and compassion. I am not giving any of these people a free ride any more; real change comes when individuals take risks. From here on in, let us call them out.

O O Christian Bahamas, where's the Christ in us?

I hardly know how to write about the Haitian earthquake. The situation is worse than any possible imagining. And what is worst for me is this: our Caribbean brethren in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago are demonstrating far more compassion than we seem to be doing.Before I go on, let me say that I'm not talking about ordinary people here. The first Bahamian responses I read were on Facebook and Twitter, and they were all one could hope for: expressions of horror and disbelief,  compassion and love, desires and movements to help.But among the comments are others -- the headlines of our foremost newspapers, for instance, which, rather than forcing us Bahamians to shake our deep, deep prejudices against our closest neighbours, against our cousins and brothers and sisters to the south, instead reinforce our prejudices and our fears. "PANIC, LOOTING AND TRIAGE AFTER MAJOR HAITI QUAKE", screams the Tribune; the Guardian warns, "GOVT BRACES FOR HAITIAN INFLUX".I don't wish to be crude, but WTF? I mean, what TF?? The Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding is preparing to fly into Haiti along with the leader of the opposition Portia Simpson-Miller, but the messages being given to our public are messages that reinforce our ideas that the citizens of Haiti are degenerate and lawless, helpless people who come and tief the wealth of others (=Bahamians), and messages that we need to brace for an influx of more of these people that we don't want or need. And these messages are having their effect. The natural responses of ordinary Bahamians grow mixed. Some of us express sorrow for the tragedy while worrying about our safety, concerned that we will have to house more refugees.Wake up, Bahamas. Ours is a country that has been built -- for the last thirty years literally, but for all our history in many many ways -- on the strength, sweat and hard work of our Haitian brethren. Many of us are descended from immigrants, recent or old, from Haiti, even though we may neither know nor admit it. We share our stories with Haiti -- our B'Bookie is called Bouki in Haiti, and his partner in Haiti is Compère Lapin (B'Rabbie here). We are not separate or better; we are neighbours, brothers and sisters. We share ancestors. We look the same.And we oppress our neighbours with our words, with our fear, with our hate. We think with our bellies -- witness the results of the Tribune poll -- but we masters of hospitality will not open our home to those who need hospitality most.And we call ourselves a "Christian" nation. How many of us are truly committed to following the words of Christ? Or does our Christianity line up with this?

The Rev. Pat Robertson is offering his own absurd explanation for why a quake hit Haiti: Many years ago, the island's people "swore a pact to the devil.""Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," the controversial televangelist said during an interview Wednesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network."They were under the heel of the French...and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'"Robertson continued: "True story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' They kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."via Rev. Pat Robertson says ancient Haitians' 'pact with the devil' caused earthquake.

Maybe we "Christians" secretly think that Jesus Christ was a wuss. After all, he said that we should turn the other cheek when people oppress us, that if we have two cloaks we should take one and give it to the poor, that if we visit prisoners, house the homeless, feed the hungry and clothe the naked we are visiting, housing, feeding and clothing Him. This does not normally line up with our theologies, which generally focus on measuring God's blessing in the stockpiling of material wealth, and which often spout the kind of hate that Pat Robertson so blithely shared with the world yesterday.But Robertson isn't one of the gods that I recognize. No. Thanks to my paternal grandmother, I spent plenty of time with the Bible, reading it for myself, not accepting the half-chewed rantings of self-styled demagogues. And there, even in the Old Testament, I read this:

21"(A)You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21, and repeated again and again in Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33, 34; 25:35; Deuteronomy 1:16; 10:19; 27:19; Zechariah 7:10)

Perhaps it's time we take our profession of Christianity a little more seriously, turn away from our evil and hate, begin to obey the word of the Lord we say we serve, and open our hearts and our home to our neighbours in this time of their unimaginable, unbelievable suffering.