The Haitian people have an urgent need for many of the things that we have, beginning with water, food, shelter, and medicine. They do not need pity, exploitation, or to be used in the service of hidden agendas. During a massive and traumatic event such as this devastating earthquake, the natural impulse is to help, to support, to be there in times of need. This impulse is at the heart of every loving nature and every human being has one. Every human being also has a fearful nature and distinguishing between the two - between love and fear - is the subject of this message, this earthquake, and this time of great upheaval not only in Haiti but throughout the world as old ways of accomplishing goals become ineffective and social structures become unstable.
Now is a time to give from the heart, to give with the loving impulse that makes us noble when we choose to act from it, and that gives us meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in return when we do. Only you can tell if you are giving from a loving impulse or from a fearful impulse. It requires some effort and commitment to distinguish between the two - which is where emotional awareness comes in - but the consequences that your giving creates depend upon it.
When you write a check for Haitian relief, notice if you feel judgmental of people who do not donate, who turn their backs on those in need (or you think they do). Are you writing your check to create or maintain a self-image that is important to you, or that feels good to you, such as "generous person" or "philanthropist"? Are you giving because you are frightened that some day you will be in need and others will not help you? Do you feel guilty because you have so much and the Haitian people have so little? Giving for these reasons is giving from a fearful impulse. Do you give because the suffering that a tsunami, earthquake, or hurricane creates has ignited your compassion, and you realize how cheap a commodity life is in our world after these traumatic events pass, even though the suffering they create persists, as it will in Haiti, and as it does in New Orleans, Darfur, and every inner city where children and parents live hungry and frightened? Do you give because you intend to contribute harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life to the world, instead of discord, competition, hoarding, and exploitation? Giving for these reasons is giving from a loving impulse.
Give with awareness. Give abundantly from your love, not from your fear. Strive to recognize the difference. Give with your heart wide open. Then keep it open. That is the real gift that you can give to Haitians, to all of us, and to yourself.