I remember how amazed we all were when the first war was telecast as it was happening. I remember the endless comments pointing out how the nature of war, the nature of global communication, had changed.
Indeed, it had.
The Vietnam War has been regarded as the first televised war and that certainly affected the way that war played out. Protests back home were significant and US involvement in the war eventually lost any shot at winning the hearts and minds of the American people on the stage of public opinion.
The Persian Gulf War ratcheted things up even more, turning human death into a televised, live event for other humans to watch.
Increasingly, we are part of a get-what-you-pay-for society. We pay taxes. Taxes buy bombs. We watch bombs go BOOM! We’re happy.
I like to think about McDonald’s here.
There you sit at your post, huffing a ton of exhaust fumes from the jalopy in front of you at the Drive-Thru (you could call it your huffing-ton-post). As soon as that dude reads the whole menu (twice), he orders a small fry and pulls ahead… out of your life.
It’s your turn.
Number 2, no pickles, no onions, Super Sized with a Coke.
You pay at the first window, coast up to the second, and snag your sack of McFat.
Again, we’re happy.
But I’m starting to wonder if we are applying our McDonald’s expectations to other areas of life, areas that just aren’t so simple.
I’ve been seeing lots of people who are increasingly frustrated with the situation in Haiti and are asking lots of tough questions about where the money is going and feeling discouraged, disenfranchised (McDonald’s = Franchise = Disenfranchised – pun totally intended), and maybe even a little bit angry. For sure, these feelings of righteous indignation are valid. I feel them just the same as you. But from where I live and work in Haiti, I gotta say… since when was tough stuff easy?
I love the line from the John Mayer song, The Heart of Life, that says “You know it’s nothing new. Bad news never had good timing.” It’s a gentle way of saying, “Yeah, sometimes life sucks… so what’s new? How can we move on?”
In a sense, I think we all need to be reminded of what we already know . . . big things take time. I mean, just think about that street they’ve been repairing in your town. One lane at a time, one measly little section of road can take a long, long time to finish.
When you look at the damage that has been done in Haiti (as I have done extensively), you begin to understand that 6 months is barely enough time to fully understand the problems (and I don’t just mean the rubble that needs cleaned up), much less make a plan to fix them, much less get started fixing them. I think it’s great that we are all asking the tough questions, I just hope that we are able to manage our expectations so that we aren’t losing faith in humanity.
At the end of the day, I’m pretty convinced that a large portion of the money sent to Haiti will be absorbed by bureaucracy and unfettered corruption. I don’t plan on being surprised when that happens. That being what it is, there’s still a heckuva lot of great people doing really awesome things and making a huge impact here.
As long as we know that donating our money at the first window will not result in a sack of instant, personal gratification when we pull ahead to the next window, then we are gonna have a much easier time getting through this with our hope intact.
Quite frankly, the Haitians who are crushed beneath the boot of Haiti’s corruption need folks who can muscle through flawed systems and disappointments and reach in and make contact with them. Anybody can quit when the going gets tough. It’s takes a special kind of person to weather the storm of corruption and bureaucracy in order to deliver on a promise of the heart.
Be. That. Person.