No one who has ever caught that stare of dumb bewilderment – or that other look of concentrated horror, full of the reflection of flames and ruins – can shake off the obsession of the Refugees– Fighting France, Edith Wharton
The refugees she refers to here are in Paris during World War I. She was the head of the American Hostels for Refugees and saw enough of these stares during the war to dry rot her heart. You can’t go back. You can’t unsee it. But how to go forward?
HAITI 1/10 7.O Magnitude Earthquake
Pictures and footage of Haitian refugees that I can’t get out of my head. Homeless at home. Not run out by forces of human violence, but by the violence we see more and more as of late – the violence of Mother Nature. And they are refugees. Even living on the mound that was once their home. Refugees. And they have the stare – man, woman and child – they have the stare. Of dumb bewilderment…of concentrated horror. And what to do? We all give and give but what to do? Is it for personal satisfaction? There is none, there can be none in this situation. Do our little contributions matter? Will they even make it into the mouth of one of those little, dirty, crying babies we see on CNN? We don’t have faith. After New Orleans, I don’t have faith. Once the media has picked the bones of this disaster will it fade from our televisions screens and newspapers? We know once this happens, it ceases to be real to us. To be important. Have you seen any recent pictures of New Orleans? It’s not okay. One superbowl trophy better – maybe – but not okay. And that’s in our own country! What will become of Haiti? Everyone knew someone, loved someone….. Haitians all around the world with losses too heavy to describe with the mere alphabet. Loses too heavy to carry. An entire people on the brink…not one single person unscathed. Not one.
As human beings, sooner or later we search for the sense in things. We get that life isn’t faire and not everything makes sense, but we search anyway. Will we really make changes? Will we dive deeper into the complexities of human compassion and empathy? Can we ever forgive and forget? Tear down the systems put in place so long ago that have caused this tiny island to remain all of these years in a perpetual state of poverty beyond poverty and ceaseless, suffocating, suffering. What about love? Do any of us really have any inside of us that would move us to make ourselves uncomfortable? It’s almost inconcievable to me that after all of the neglect and devastation these people have lived, this could even happen to them. Many questions for God.