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LETTER OF THE DAY - A tragedy brings out the best, worst in people

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

It may be said that major tragedies generally bring forth the best and worst in human beings, and the recent horrific earthquake tragedy in Haiti is no exception.

From what I have seen and heard, the vast majority of people throughout the world have overtly expressed empathy for all Haitian victims and their families. This outpouring of empathy and overwhelming generosity is unprecedented in this hemisphere.

Nevertheless, there are a few cynical, self-righteous and extremely insensitive people who always like to lay blame and politicise tragic events. It is, therefore, not surprising to hear nauseating, heartless comments spurting from the lips of the 700 Club talk-show host, Pat Robertson, who claims that Haitians have been cursed because their founding leaders made "a pact with the devil" in exchange for their country's independence.

And, we get the usual bigoted and hate-filled remarks from the American talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. In reference to America's quick response to the Haitian disaster, he said: "This will play right into Obama's hands. They'll use this to burnish their 'credibility' with the black community - in both light-skinned and black-skinned community in this country. It's made to order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there."

But amid these negative sounds of ill will, and amid the anguish and utter despair that have beset the nation, the Haitian people have demonstrated an amazing degree of resilience and hopefulness. It is true that a few natives have demonstrated their mean-spiritedness by looting and brutalising their fellow citizens but, by and large, the vast majority of the Haitian population has shown great restraint and has behaved admirably.

Insensitive people

When all is said and done, this great Haitian tragedy is not the fulfilment of a curse, as a few misguided, insensitive people would like us to believe. On the contrary, this calamity may be a blessing in disguise. It may very well be an opportunity for Haitians 'to rise again from their ashes' and build a better and prosperous country.

As William Shakespeare said: "Sweet are the uses of adversity."

I am, etc.,

RUPERT JOHNSON

r.b.johnson@sympatico.ca

Toronto, Canada