Over the past few days I have received insane Facebook status updates from a close friend. The stream that followed has left me with profound respect and caused me to reflect on some lessons that can be learned.
14 January 2009 9:54 a.m. I am packing for Haiti... so many things bring to help. How am i going to carry all this?
15 January 2009 12:26 p.m. I am STUCK in Dominican REpublic trying to arange a chartered flight to get us and the 36 rescue workers 4 dogs and 7,300 pounds of rescue gear to get them on the ground in Haiti. it is FAR too dangerous to cross on land WE NEED A FLIGHT. can you help in ANY way?
17 January 2009 7:33 p.m. I was put in that situation NO ONE EVER wants to be put in tonight... I got to ground zero to a hospital in the capital of Haiti, we were told needed us. The doctor pulled us aside and to a woman that had a gash in her calf big enough to put a football in, he siad, what do you do? I quickly replied, a turnicuit 1.5 inches above the knee... he said perfect DO IT.
There are two options: coercion and force or freedom of choice. My friend exercised his freedom of choice to spend his own money, which he has very successfully and morally earned through many entrepreneurial ventures, to board a plane and fly straight into a third world hell hole where it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have died in the recent earthquakes. Despite the economic conditions an estimated $10M of donations has been raised for Haiti relief efforts.
Fortunately my friend, like so many other good people, still has enough resources to perform this service while Obama struts around like a hero for using extorted tax revenue for aid.
THE DRIVE TO SURVIVE
Life has an unquenchable drive to survive even at the expense of other life. It is the ability to reason that largely separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. But that is not to say that humans, both in rags and pinstripe Wall Street suits, do not act like animalistic barbarians trampling other's freedom of choice.
When times get tough it is the rare human that showcases the supernal spark by willingly sharing the last breadcrumb or boarding a plane and descending into chaos with the intent to relieve suffering.
THIN VENEER OF ORDER
Sure, there is the bad man who may steal or even rob a piece of bread. But we can have at least some sympathy for this behavior when considering the totality of the circumstances. And the bad man also realizes his badness.
But the truly evil man is the one that struts around thinking he is doing good by robbing the piece of bread from another to then allocate how he sees fit.
America, like Haiti and the rest of the world, has a tiny fraction of the population which produces the food. When there are disruptions, whether it is a hurricane in New Orleans or an earthquake in Haiti, the thin veneer of order tends to evaporate for many reasons.
SURVIVALISM IN THE SUBURBS
The Telegraph reports that Royal Caribbean International, who has pledged $1m to relief efforts, maintained the schedule to send its cruise ship to dock at a private beach a mere 60 miles from the devestated Port-au-Prince.
Of course, some keyboard rescue workers think providing revenue for the locals in that city is insensitive and the trip to Labadee should have been canceled. But that is about the worst thing that could be done. But how far away from a disaster zone should activities be canceled? 60 miles? 600 miles?
Sure, dialing an 800 number or texting a $5 donation is commendable. But to make a real lasting impact the issue is the need to be prepared locally with medical supplies, food, power, etc.
I compiled a collection of suggestions in Survivalism In The Suburbs for how an individual can be better prepared for possible disruptions and the dissolving of social order. Being prepared bestows a position of power and the ability to act with a higher standard rather than resort to baser animalistic impulses.
Additionally, I recommend people have a 'last plane account' which answers the questions: if you have to take the last plane out of your city then (1) where do you go and (2) how do you maintain your standard of living? I have used my own preparations several times over the years.
THE REAL CAUSE
Since the earthquake is just the most immediate action in the causation chain it is credited with killing the tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. But how many deaths could have been prevented but for do-gooder politicians voting to send foreign aid and market restrictions that destroy wealth and thus prevent the ability of the Haitian population to make adequate preparations? But for these giant wealth destroying machines how many more resources would be available to respond to and relieve suffering?
Like the socialized roads in America that result in about 40,000 deaths per year; in this instance the blame is not being squarely placed on the criminal gangs costumed in government regalia who have made serious decisions months or years before that are both actual and proximate causes in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
It is so much easier to lay the blame on an unaccountable 'act of God' in an attempt to absolve the truly culpable parties. Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences which are resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Haitians.
I am grateful for those who have donated to help relieve the suffering in Haiti. I admire my friend who has traveled into chaos to look his benefactors in the eye. Hopefully he returns safely.
The Haiti earthquake of 2010 can be a teaching experience for us all. When considering physical preparation I think the best insurance is a three month supply of food and a 72 hour kit. We can inventory and bring current our supplies.
But to strike at the root we need to help others understand the source of humans rights and the proper role of government.
Since individuals are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” and because individuals form governments to protect property, life, and liberty, it follows that individuals are superior to their creation of government. Individuals can grant to their creation at most only those rights they possess.
No individual possesses the right to unjustifiably infringe on another individual’s autonomy, and because individuals create governments, no government can possibly be justified in the possession of such a right. Neither does an individual possess the moral authority to use coercion and force to compel another to perform charity against their will.
Therefore, legitimate government must act within the constraints of the Non-Aggression Axiom. Otherwise those actors are merely criminal gangs costumed in government regalia.
Government represents one of the most powerful forces on earth. Therefore, an individual’s political beliefs reveal with perfect clarity his or her moral character.
Over just the past five years I have been in hurricanes and earthquakes in America, a massive civil disturbance in Argentina and several other life threatening situations. It can happen here and there. Once we understand the philosophy then we can live in harmony with it and attempt to persuade others to do likewise.
You can not feed someone else when your own stomach is empty so why not at least get a 72 hour kit. You can also persuade others through your example. What better way than your local food bank or getting on a plane like my good friend?