The Haiti earthquake may have killed 200,000 people but such dreadful events also demonstrate the strength of human warmth and solidarity.
The earthquake devastated neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, and even the presidential palace. More than a million people were made homeless. Dazed and injured survivors lay in the streets, singing hymns and praying for deliverance. It was the bleakest moment in the troubled history of this poor country.
But the disaster focused the eyes of people from every corner of the world on Haiti. Their concern is not just for the victims of the earthquake but for themselves and for the disasters we may all face in the future. As the saying goes, there but for the grace of God go we. The world's first independent black republic seems fated to suffer disaster. One of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, Haiti was already dependent on international aid. Even maintaining law and order requires a UN peacekeeping force. The country's dependent state makes the duty of the international community to provide assistance all the more imperative.
Countries have rushed relief supplies, rescue teams and money to Haiti. On the ground, Haitians are dragging survivors from ruined buildings with their bare hands, and the only functioning hospital in the capital is working round the clock to save lives. It is a truly desperate situation.
But in extremis, humans find a collective strength and warmth and that overcomes feelings of cold and hopelessness. In the science fiction movie 2012, people sing and pray in the face of disaster. The President chooses to face death alongside his people; a selfish tycoon sacrifices his life and is redeemed as he falls into the abyss. Extreme events show that, if people retain their faith in human warmth and solidarity, they will not fight each other for a place on the Ark.
(This post was first published in Chinese and translated by Wang Mengru.)