Junot Diaz Dispatches from the Apocalypse

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Junot Diaz has an incredibly powerful piece on the Earthquake in Haiti, and what this apocalypse has revealed about the world. The Haitian earthquake was no natural disaster, it was a social disaster compounded by centuries of poverty and looting by the ruling classes. And while Haiti is at the extreme end of the bell-curve, everywhere else is becoming more and more like Haiti, as the wealth of the ultra-rich out-strips the rest of us.

But terrible as Haiti is, and terrible as this Haitian future is, we can’t look away.

“If I know anything it is this: We need the revelations that come from our apocalypses—and never so much as we do now. Without this knowledge how can we ever hope to take responsibility for the social practices that bring on our disasters? And how can we ever hope to take responsibility for the collective response that will be needed to alleviate the misery?

How can we ever hope to change?

Because we must change, we also must refuse the temptation to look away when we are confronted with disasters. We must refuse the old stories that tell us to interpret social disasters as natural disasters. We must refuse the familiar scripts of victims and rescuers that focus our energies solely on charity instead of on systemic change. We must refuse the recovery measures that seek always to further polarize the people and the places they claim to mend. And we must, in all circumstances and with all our strength, resist the attempts of those who helped bring the disaster to use the chaos to their advantage—to tighten their hold on our futures.”

Hear hear! Do not be distracted, do not be frightened, face the future boldly and say, “I will not give in.” It is what humans do best, after all.

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