The catastrophic earthquake in Haiti is dominating our news bulletins and once again the world watches in horror as the death toll climbs. At present it is feared that up to 100,000 people may have lost their lives when the magnitude 7.0 Richter earthquake flattened massive areas of the capital Port-au-Prince yesterday. The city is plagued by poverty and has many rickety buildings built to deficient standards, while in the slums, the jerry-built hovels adhere to no regulation and are not part of the city planning process. Add to that the proximity to the city of the major tectonic plate rift (the closest being about 15 km) and the superficial nature of the quake, and one understands the magnitude of the damage and the destruction caused.
The world has responded swiftly to provide aid and immediate help in order to save as many of the lives of the people trapped in debris and dilapidated buildings. The threat of aftershocks, some of which may happen at any time now and which may be as high as 6.5 Richter is another factor to consider. Time is of essence and real help is needed urgently to help the devastated nation.
In comments that add gross insult to the immense injury and loss that the Haitian people are struggling to come to terms with, American televangelist Pat Robertson has blamed the devastating earthquake in Haiti on a pact between the impoverished nation’s founders and the devil. Speaking on his television program The 700 Club, Mr Robertson said the pact happened “a long time ago in Haiti. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon III [sic] and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'OK it's a deal'. And they kicked the French out.”
Mr Robertson said after the pact, the Haitians “revolted and got something - themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.” Mr Robertson said the curse was evident when Haiti was contrasted with its neighbour, the Dominican Republic. “That island of Hispaniola is one island. It is cut down the middle - on the one side is Haiti, on the other is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God and out of this tragedy I’m optimistic something good may come.” Said Mr Robertson.
Mr Robertson’s outspoken comments have caused much controversy in the past. He was widely criticised for his 2005 call for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s assassination. He also said the 2006 stroke suffered by then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon was punishment from God. He blamed the September 11 terrorist attacks on civil liberties, promised a disastrous tsunami in America in 2006 and a terrorist attack on United States soil in 2007. When both predictions failed to happen, Mr Robertson said people must have prayed to God, and “God in his mercy spared us.”
At this time of great national tragedy, in Haiti, where immense human suffering is evident in all of its awesome extent, comments of the type made by Mr Robertson are neither Christian nor helpful, in my opinion. Adding to the country’s woes, which include years of social unrest, crime, political tumult and natural disaster, this latest earthquake has made the Haitian people regard it as an especially cruel and incomprehensible event. It is fortunate that people who do advertise themselves as “Christians” as Mr Robertson does, have been propelled into action and are providing real Christian charity, rapid and decisive action and not hurtful and insulting words; help, not blame; comfort and not threats of divine wrath…
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.