Monday, February 15, 2010

An Open Letter to Pat Robertson In Response to His Recent Comments About Haiti

Draft 1
Go Fuck Yourself, you insensitive, cold-hearted, son of a bitch.
Excuse me.

Draft 2
Dear Sir,
Please go shoot yourself in the face and roll around on the ground in the middle of a salt factory.
Damn, I’ll try again.

Draft 3
Dear Mr. Robertson,
Before opening your mouth and making a ridiculous inhumane claim that the earthquake in Haiti was their punishment for making a deal with the devil, please first admonish yourself for the ridiculous claim that you are a decent, caring man of faith.
And Fuck You.

Draft 4
If you insist on ranting like a deranged lunatic then, please at least have the decency to do it on a street corner.

Draft 5
One year before the earthquake.
At 10 pm in a rental car outside of the hotel in Palo Alto we sat.
Me, my older co-worker, and a student just months younger than me, just months returned from a trip to Haiti.

He had been working with Partners in Health, documenting people’s health conditions. A well meaning, well mannered, well groomed guy who watched malnutrition reshape infant bodies and then returned to his old life, but nothing seemed the same.
He sat in the back seat seeking counsel from my co-worker who had dedicated his life to his community,

I looked back at him and his strained expression, his mind buckling, bending, and twisting back over itself, trying to make sense of a world with good people that would let
American wealth and Haitian poverty coexist.
One year before the earthquake.

Wanting so desperately to be a good human being
I remember the weight in his eyes
When it sunk in how big a commitment it really is to work for a better world.
The images burned in his brain of people pushed to brink, this is not something you can forget.
And a good person can’t ignore those in need, right? Those in pain? Those in suffering? And it seems there is so much.

He didn’t have many answers, just the raw fullness of the most important question tearing and tugging at him.

It becomes a duty to fight for the team that’s losing.
A choice that’s not really a choice.
His eyes wide, must not have
Blinked for five minutes.
This all one year before the earthquake.

Before bodies already worn down were buried under a city fallen
Before harsh winds whipped at raw skin of newly made orphans
wandering Port Au Prince streets.
Before lives fell apart along with buildings infrastructure and order

And now with this tragedy we begin to care, finally.
I’m left mesmerized at what it takes to capture our attention and grab our compassion.

And I don’t mean that solutions are clear.
Still ravaged Katrina streets in New Orleans silence any judgments before spoken
But I hear ocean winds carrying aftershock reverberations and the cries of masses huddled hoping for food and water.
And I can’t feign deafness.

How can we help each other?
In the long run foreign aid leads to dependency and isn’t sustainable,
and that’s true,
but what are you supposed to do when people are starving now?

It is time to devote ourselves to this question, Pat. To ask finally, not only as nations, or as a people, but as persons, how can we actually help each other?

And it is time to sprint with arms full and empty them at Haiti’s feet, apologizing profusely that we are just arriving now.

Pat, here is a basic lesson in human compassion.

We are not saviors, we are not able to be. We are not the authority, it is not our place to be. But we are people, and people need help. So, we show up and we help.

Bobby Gordon

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