Thursday, January 14, 2010
Editorial: Ties to Haiti that bind in its time of need
People's connections to the island nation bring its grief close to home.
From the RoundTable blog
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Even before an earthquake devastated Haiti on Tuesday, people in the Roanoke area were reaching out to its people.
For decades, Southwest Virginia has been creating ties that squeeze the heart all the harder for quake victims who are not statistics, but people and places known and feared for as reports of death and destruction grow only more dire.
Haiti is one of America's closest neighbors, and one of the world's poorest countries -- facts that have brought many of its people to the U.S. and sent many Americans there to fight the overwhelming poverty.
The Haitian immigrants who settled in this region and now wait anxiously for news of families and friends are not alone.
Through church missions and other outreach programs, medical professionals, agricultural advisers, college students and others -- uncounted numbers of people in this region from various walks of life -- have planted some part of themselves on the island nation while giving their labor to help the poor.
Scientists say Tuesday's earthquake is the strongest to hit Haiti in more than 200 years. And so, incomprehensible suffering is heaped on top of the suffering its people routinely endure.
Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, looking through the lens of his bizarre brand of religiosity, sees in their hardship the fruits of "a pact to the devil" that demands of them "a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I'm optimistic something good may come."
The good that will come will be from more loving hearts than Robertson's.
President Obama acted well in swiftly assuring Haitians of the full support of the United States for search and rescue operations and humanitarian relief.
As he said, "With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home. So we have to be there for them in their hour of need."
The mountains and valleys of Southwestern Virginia have grown more closely connected to Haiti in recent decades. We expect those ties will hold firm.