Jan 14, 2010

The scenes of devastation in Haiti hardly seem real. As a resident of Southern California — another tectonically unpredictable region — this story hits too close to home. I can hardly process this kind of news. An entire city leveled by an earthquake in a matter of seconds? Thousands dead and dying beneath tons of rubble? How does anyone make sense of it? Like Katrina, like the 2004 Tsunami, like the 2009 Australian bushfires, the Haitian earthquake proves that nature is capriciously vicious. Even the rocks my daughter made shapes with on the sidewalk yesterday are the result of millions of years of chaotic, species-eradicating cataclysms.

I have a hard time making sense of random destruction. What happened in Haiti isn’t the kind of everything-happens-for-a-reason plot point in a novel. It isn’t a scene from a film by Roland Emmerich. It’s not one of those scary bible stories told in Southern Baptist Sunday School. It’s real and it’s happening right now halfway across the world. It’s happening as I sit in my comfy bed munching on Lays potato chips and wrestling with the same kind of existential questions that have plagued humankind since the first guy crawled out of a cave and wondered why he was able to get out when the other guy was eaten by a saber tooth tiger.

Grace doesn’t always make sense. And sometimes karma seems to be rife with loopholes.

So, I count my blessings and ache for those who have lost so much. I also look for ways to make a difference. If you are looking too — here are a few links to organizations that need our help:

Yele Haiti is Haitian-born Wyclef Jean’s community service organization. You can make donations to the site — if it’s not down from too much traffic. (Keep trying.) You can also text YELE to 501501

Doctors Without Borders is asking for donations to assist their Haiti Earthquake Response team. The organization needs funds to dispatch additional emergency staff, including a surgical team and equipment to establish a 100-bed inflatable tent hospital with two operating rooms.

Oxfam needs help with setting up public health, sanitation and clean water services.

The American Red Cross is already out of medical supplies, affecting the organization’s ability to assist critically injured patients in Haiti.

Mother nature may be able to destroy — but her children are pretty good at helping to rebuild. In fact, that may be the only thing that makes sense to me at times like this. Feel free to add more links to reputable charities in comments.

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