Five years ago, Dr. Paul Farmer was invited to be a guest lecturer for my Social Analysis course at Harvard College. The course opened my mind to the needs of the world with respect to public health and medicine. While my primary demographic interests in medicine are more oriented to domestic, urban, inner-city populations, one sentence in Dr. Farmer’s talk with respect to international medicine bothered me for quite some time. In an effort to call upon our sympathy and recruit motivation to support efforts to bring first world medicine and people to third world, resource-poor settings as Partners in Health was doing with Haiti, he said that in the end, it all comes down to one thing: mercy. At the time, my skeptical mind wondered, “Is this pseudo-religious/spiritual talk of mercy really going to convince a cynical, selfish human race to help those in need thousands of miles away?”
That was the year of Hurricane Katrina. Even in the chaos and the demonstrations of the worst part of human nature, the vast majority of humanity on display was that of grace under fire-and mercy. The past four years of my life as a listener of stories is filled with anecdotes like an easy-going counselor at my school jumping in his fishing boat to ferry neighbors and strangers from rooftops to safety, the sending of food to my parents and other survivors stuck in a flooded hospital from people all over the country, and the rapid response of firemen and policemen who flew down from New York City who felt they owed something to New Orleans, one of the cities that donated fire trucks and equipment to NYC after September 11, 2001. Despite the cynicism, so many people around the U.S. and around the world helped New Orleans rise out of the ashes to the city it is today: as fun-loving, free-spirited, and full of life as before.
Now, another group of people is in desperate need. To the vast majority of humanity that recognizes our oneness as a people, as one human race united by an everlasting desire to grow and find a better future, ignore the cynicism and skepticism and do what you can to help those suffering in the wake of a terrible natural disaster.
Stand with Haiti – Partners in Health