A Discreet Atheist’s Thoughts on Haiti

14 Jan

“Why does God do these things?”

(I don’t believe in God.) Last night, an 89 year-old woman at the nursing home my Mom works at asked her this question. My Mom, a part-time Catholic, responded with the usual shpiel — God made us, God made all things, whatever happens to us and whatever we do is beyond His control.

I am a covert atheist. I don’t wear devil horns to bed, I don’t roll my eyes when others talk about a higher power, and I consider the Bible a pretty good read. The reason I don’t advertise the fact that I don’t believe in God is because I feel that it limits the pool of people I can interact with. If you don’t believe me, you’ve never been to Catholic school.

Though I am not God-fearing, the disaster in Haiti has nonetheless stirred up some strong feelings on my part. I feel deep sorrow for those that lie in rubble waiting to be found. I can’t imagine how slow time passes when a family member or friend is missing. When I see news reports of people walking through the streets, I wonder what it would feel like to have no home to return to and no grasp on privacy or comfort for an untold amount of time.

Sitting on my couch in my bathrobe with a hot cup of coffee by my side, I feel guilty. When I Google “How to help Haiti,” all I see are links for donation websites. Years ago, I remember reading somewhere that the greatest aid to disaster relief is often in manpower, not in money. I wish there was something I could physically do to help. Last year, a friend of mine joined AmeriCorps, and I remember looking into it, then getting caught up in schoolwork and applications to internships. I’ve always felt that I shouldn’t be selfish about my youth — though I’m only 5’3″, I’m strong, smart, and diligent. I graduate college this May. Though it’s not much help for Haiti right now, I’m going to look into joining the Peace Corps.

My thoughts go out to the people suffering the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.


13 Responses to “A Discreet Atheist’s Thoughts on Haiti”

  1. greg January 14, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    You read wrong, IMO. Cash, as a liquid currency, is almost universally the best thing you can give. Donating clothes, water, etc., all creates a logistical nightmare for storage, shipping, etc. And while manpower is critical, they’ll be able to recruit a lot locally (and it’s always a best practice to do that: outsiders always leave during the recovery while the rest are there for good) — but what they’ll need to be effective are the funds to do their jobs.

  2. ummmmheyyyy January 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    Thanks for the info. I considered trying to find a group that puts together care packages — good to know they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Maybe later on down the line that kind of help will be effective.

  3. aforcier January 15, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    good for you to be a cool, gentle, and caring atheist.


  4. LiberatedMind.com January 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    It can be difficult to find a charity that is not under a religious umbrella. There are lists of secular charities out there, just google. For starters, here is a great article on how atheists are donating to help Haiti victims. http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-8947-LA-Atheism-Examiner~y2010m1d15-Atheists–Humanists-donating-to-Haitian-earthquake-relief

  5. ummmmheyyyy January 16, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    Dear LiberatedMind.com, I think you *may* have failed to read my entry, maybe you just looked at the title. ???

  6. LiberatedMind.com January 16, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    No, I read it and agree. Should have said that if one can physically go, we can still help those who are going to help by donating :)

  7. LiberatedMind.com January 16, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    *can’t, sorry I’m typing on a phone

  8. ummmmheyyyy January 16, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    Gotcha! Donating $$ is hands down the best way to help.

  9. Peter Clarke January 17, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    I don’t want to discourage people from doing what they can to help, but you should be very careful who you give money to. Do your research and find out how the different charities actually use the money. Here’s an article that highlights the Tsunami relief money given to Sri Lanka and how it was misused:
    Half a billion dollars is still unaccounted for in money given to Sri Lanka and at least 600 million was used for projects completely unrelated.
    Cash is absolutely the best way to help, but tragedies like this have a way of turning good natured, compassionate people into suckers.

  10. Peter Clarke January 17, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Isn’t it funny how years of Catholic schooling have a way of producing atheists?

  11. ummmmheyyyy January 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Are you one too?

  12. ummmmheyyyy January 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    And well said, Peter, well said.

  13. Peter Clarke January 25, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Of course I am one too.

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