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Haiti And The Devil? What The Devil?

04/04/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Some things leave you speechless. Like the earthquake in Haiti. In the absence of reason, humans look to blame.

Pat Robertson blames the people of Haiti for making some sort of pact with the devil. Problem is the devil, if you believe in that sort of thing, doesn't work that way. As one email I received said, remember Faust and Damn Yankees? If the devil were involved you'd see a lot more high-rise hotels, gambling casinos, SUVs and botox on that little island. The devil's reputed to pay off big--until it's your turn to pay back, of course. Nope, this doesn't have his identifying marks.

Then there are the folks who want to blame God. Or the lack of God. They say if there were a God "he" (ahem) wouldn't let this happen. There's a story about a guy who arrives at the pearly gates, irate, and confronts God about all the injustice and war on Earth. He demands, "How could you let this happen?" God answers, "Funny, I was going to ask you the same thing."

God doesn't truck in evil or causing harm; nor does God limit our freedom. Human negligence, greed, and corruption caused most of the deaths in Haiti, not the earthquake. Here's the story, in brief: After the US invaded Haiti in 1915, the corporations that moved in pressured subsistence farmers off their land. It had to do with rice and who would buy whose in the great import/export musical money game where the US ends up with all the chairs--that is, all the money and all the food. So the poor people moved into the city and began living in shantytowns. They cut down their trees to make charcoal for heat and cooking. Then the trees died out and the root system went away. Roots are a necessity to sustaining the stability of the earth, so this made the land vulnerable and unstable. Put this unstable land together with buildings built without re-bar at the lowest possible cost, and you have a recipe for millions of tons of dust and chunks of concrete in piles, and 170,000 people dead.

I survived the Loma Prieta earthquake in CA in 1989. Same size quake: 7.0. Sixty-three people died. Difference? Money, laws, and race, not voodoo... unless you mean voodoo economics.

Let's grow up. Life is full of pain and tragedy. It has nothing to do with deserving. Earthquakes happen. Only infants believe they are the center of a universe that revolves around them, rewarding or punishing them for their smallest deeds. That's why Freud called it "infantile omnipotence."

But pacts with the devil are common practice everywhere. What is the devil except the metaphorical embodiment of selfishness, greed, hatred--that sort of thing? What is a pact with the devil if it's not selling your soul---your freedom, goodness, compassion, and integrity--for some short-term gain like money or power? Isn't that what the folks who sold us the Iraq War did? What about Enron or AIG? Not to mention politicians who sell their souls to the Insurance Industry or the Banking Industry or Big Pharma in return for another term... or even you and me when we don't speak up for what's right or help out where we can--- in exchange for comfort. Do you really think you have to kill chickens to make a pact with evil?

We all make pacts with someone or something that guides our lives. You might want to notice who and what you make your pacts with. Because it's going to show up show in who you are--you know--your inner heaven or hell.

I have two friends who are employed as nurses. One lives in a beautiful home in Marin County CA. She is already in Haiti. The other is a pediatric nurse in Greenfield MA. She's a single mom working full time to support herself and her son, but she, too, is leaving at the end of the week, taking a month off to volunteer in an orphanage and pediatric hospital outside Port au Prince. Go figure.

Both of them have a glow around them. You know who they've made a pact with-- call it what you will. And they've got nothing to show for it, which is how you know it's not the devil.