"Our Haitians brothers and sisters are trapped in the misery of their earthquake nightmare while luxury cruise ships still dock at private beaches there!"
That was the comment I made on my Facebook page yesterday. I included a link to this story: “Cruise Ships Still Find a Haitian Berth.” I have a problem with that.
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? In Luke 10:25-37 we see that he stopped what he was doing in order to attend to the urgent need of the man who had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. Whatever errand he was on, whatever legitimately important thing he needed to attend to, he stopped what he was doing so that he could do something even more important. And in so doing, as we read in the Gospel, it cost him money to do so.
Lots of people responded to my FB post, some with disgust, others with a reminder that at least the cruise ships in question are doing something to help. Here is my follow-up post explaining why I still see this cruise-ship-cavorting-in-Haiti situation as a problem that goes beyond bad taste and potentially negative PR for the cruise lines:
Thanks, everyone, for your good and insightful comments on this. The reason I chose that article to link to is (as some of you noted) because it includes "the rest of the story," about how the cruise lines are doing something to help. That needs to be said.
However . . . there is still a serious problem with all this. The stricken people of Haiti are experiencing excruciating suffering on an enormous scale a short distance away from where others are resting comfortably in the arms of luxury.
In my estimation, it poses more than just a problem of bad taste for the cruise ships to continue docking in "safe" parts of Haiti. I don't think they should.
By way of an analogy, it's kind of like this:
Imagine that your house burned down and half your family was incinerated. You have nowhere to go, because you're poor and destitute, so you camp out in the ruins of your yard and smoldering house.
You've stacked the charred bodies of your dead family members (children, spouse, etc.) in a corner of your yard hoping that someone will arrive to assist you in burying them. And you wait, miserable, hungry, injured, and grief-stricken.
And then . . . your neighbors (a few of whom have thoughtfully stopped by to bring you a box of doughnuts, a jug of water, and a blanket) go forward with their plans for the neighborhood block party.
The date for the party was set months ago, mind you, and everyone has gone to trouble to save the date on their schedules, so nothing can be done about it except to have the party.
And so, while you huddle in anguish, waiting for rescue, your neighbors on either side and across the street from you have their merry block-party, which abounds with plenty of succulent food, tasty beverages, music, and all-around bonhomie.
All of this is happening right near you and your burned out house and the stack of your family's corpses in the corner.
So . . . given all of the above, do you think your neighbors are doing the right thing? Or is there something better they could be doing instead of throwing their block party?
My problem with the cruise lines is not that they are catering to their guests' bought-and-paid-for right to a week of fun in the sun. That's what cruise lines do. My complaint against them is that they are choosing a far lesser good than the one they should and could choose, it seems to me.
And let's not forget these solemn words of Christ about just this sort of thing:
And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.
And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting (Matt. 25:31-46).