Sunday, January 17, 2010

The darkness of Haiti and the stars of (Kenya and) tomorrow

Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.
-Dr. King

Every morning this past week, I came in to the office and opened my NY Times homepage to millions of words of destruction, death, despair, desolation, and hell materialized in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Unable to overcome my own depression as I began to read these articles, I regretfully opted to scroll through the daily images instead, and was confronted by pictures of lifeless men who had just found their 10 month old daughters in mounds of the deceased and breathless women whose entire families had just been crushed in their collapsed house.

A few hours after this unbearably overwhelming yet inescapable routine yesterday, I was watching a presentation by the CEO of Acumen Fund as she discussed the hope for the future for developing countries. While describing the impact that Acumen's investments have catalyzed and the overall change she's seen in these countries, she shared the following quote from a journalist named William White:

I'm not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen the past and I love today.

Almost immediately, I was struck by how true this quote was for my experiences in Kenya. That despite the past, and all the atrocities and injustices and unfathomable evil that has occurred, there is hope today and promise for tomorrow. Then I remembered the picture of a screaming woman whose mother was buried under a pile of rebel in Port-au-Prince, and questioned how a quote like that could ever be applicable to someone who no longer even desires to live.

As I was reflecting this afternoon on these thoughts and tomorrow's MLK day, I thought about one of my favorite quotes (above) from Dr. King (which I've shared before), and how it ironically applies even to the seemingly hopeless situation that Haiti faces today. I wondered if perhaps the very reason why we can celebrate another mouth feed in Kenya, another job created, another life spared from malaria, is because outside of that ray of light, there is death and darkness all around.

While that is an unsettling reality in itself, it sadly seems like reality nonetheless. We live in a very imperfect world -- not at all existing as I believe it was intended to be -- and as a result, we are surrounded by death. As Dr. King said though, only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. Although I question how much even a profound statement such as this can have in a situation such as Haiti's today, it's my prayer that -- just as the stars have begun to emerge in Kenya -- Haiti will soon be able to see a similar light, and that somehow/someway that daughter-less father and that family-less sister and that mother-less daughter will one day be able to say these deaths are of the past, and we are not afraid of tomorrow.

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