The 7.0 magnitude Earthquake that hit Haiti last week has brought about a justifiably horrified reaction from the rest of the world. New reporters have been frantically covering the event, from the first reactions to the rising violence that is beginning to sweep Port du Prince. As I drove down my driveway this morning and on to Rt. 12 on my way to work, the reporter for the BBC explained that the situation was getting worse. People were living in the streets, and aid was having a difficult time reaching the million-plus refugees. I turned the radio off.
The images and descriptions that I’ve been seeing and hearing have been lingering in my thoughts in the meantime, and I can’t help but think that there are some people out there who have wished for this moment to come, prepared for it, even.
I’m not talking about people who were dismissing the tragedy for their own benefit, but hoped for some sort of post-apocalyptic event that brought down the mass of organized society and government and allowed for a quiet solitude in the middle of nowhere with a stockpile of food and a gun to fend off intruders. Thus is the backbone of most post-apocalyptic fiction that seems to enthrall the nation.
Looking at the pictures that have streamed across the internet and the television, I see a window into a true apocalypse. And what I see is horrifying, disturbing and something that I would never, ever want to experience for myself. For all of the appeal that living alone, fending for one’s self against the world, has, the true cost has been revealed in recent days.
The events that I have been listening to, watching and donating towards are something out of fiction, in a surreal way. First came the numbers of the dying – there was confusion from everyone who talked there. I listened as former US President Bill Clinton spoke from the country just a day after the horrific events, pleading for the public to help donate supplies to help the wounded and dying. Doctors and rescue workers were flying in from all corners of the globe, while hope faded from the rubble.
The past couple of days have taken an even darker turn. With little food and supplies from the rest of the world actually reaching the people, violence has broken out as desperation overtakes civility. Here is where we see the true nature of humanity, and with the virtual collapse of government, law and justice in Port du Prince, we are witness to a troubling situation that would undoubtedly occur with the fall of a massive nation, such as the United States. Gangs have begun to rise, and over the next six months, there will be problems in restoring order, and that’s with the likely onetime assistance of the American public, and the deployment of the Marines and Army to the country.
Fortunately, as of this morning, a US hospital ship has arrived at Haiti and has begun to take on the wounded, while the 82nd Airborne has set up a distribution system for food and water that will hopefully help people. Haiti will be saved, by a concentrated US and International effort to save its people and help it to rebuild – a process that might take years. If this is the reaction within days of a crisis and within days of almost certain rescue, what would happen in the event that there is no aid coming in from others? I suspect that while Haiti shows us much, it would barely tip the scales.
If the fantasy of the true libertarian comes true, the same thing will happen here. Cities would fall into lawlessness, looting and rioting days after any sort of event, when the first pangs of hunger set in. How soon, in Port du Prince, before neighbors will begin to murder for water, food and other essential supplies, if it hasn’t begun already? As I sit at home, surrounded by the trappings of a modern society, I see just how much I can lose, but also how terrifying life would become with the lost of control of modern society. I certainly cannot imagine how the Haitians are coping with this drastic change, and while watching, I’m glad that I’m in some small position to help, and hope that my meager contribution will make it to the country.
The past couple of days have been a sobering, dark look at everything we have to lose; not just our material possessions, but our sanity as a culture. I hope that I never live through something like what the people of Port du Prince is going through right now. Moreover, I hope that those with the video game consoles will look closely at what the true face of their fantasy is.