Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haiti...Is it OK to turn the channel?

I think I can finally write about Haiti. It was too hard at first. The pictures were devastating and I ached for those children with my ties to Compassion International.

A good friend commented that she still feels helpless. She has contributed to the Haiti relief and it still doesn't feel like enough. There are no easy answers. My only thoughts are pray, give, and then turn off the news. I want to guard against being desensitized, emotionally overloaded, or worse, entertained.

I hurt so much for the people of Haiti, but some of this "news" feels like exploitation of sacred, private moments.

What do you think? How do you cope with disaster in this magnitude?


Don Pratt said...

I appreciate the feeling that the news surrounding Haiti is somewhat exploitative. But it's like a double edged sword. If it wasn't for the media, I'm not sure there would be as much aid given.

I too have felt tremendously helpless. I have two friends who are from Haiti -- one hangs on to the TV for some news as she's only received two phone calls. All she knows is that her grandmother is alive and living on the street in front of the house that she grew up in -- which is now a pile of rubble.

My other friend is in the psych unit of the local hospital. She had a psychotic break at the news and has been in and out of the hospital since the quake. She has received no news regarding her family.

All I can do is pray hard. Real hard.

mercyrising said...

Thanks Don, for the really honest comments.

Gary S. Chapman said...

As a humanitarian/NGO photographer, I have struggled with the balance between providing information to a world willing and wanting to help and becoming exploitive in my coverage of a disaster. It is a balance easily upset by personal feelings of envy and greed (think Pulitzer Prize.)

I think the best way we can guard ourselves, (as photographers, journalist etc.) is to realize we too could fall victim to pride and arrogance if we are not careful. Knowing I could possibly fail keeps me humble before God and before the hurting people in front of my camera.

I always telling young photographers, don't ever tell me you missed getting a photo because you did not have your camera with you, you didn't know how to properly use your camera, you weren't paying attention. Only tell me you didn't take a photo because God asked you to put your camera down. I have missed quite a few photos but have no regrets.