By Sambriddhi Nepal
*** Editor’s Note: Today marks the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. A minute of silence will be observed at 1:53pm Pacific Time, the exact moment when the 7.0 magnitude quake hit.
Originally, this piece was meant to be about Haiti. Having lived there, I wanted to write through a more personal stand point. I started compiling some information about the most recent events there. The hurricane, cholera, earthquake relief. I gathered some information about aid money, watched videos on a variety of news websites, and read countless magazine articles.. After two weeks, I felt I had immersed myself rather deeply in the murky waters of Haitian politics and international relations. I was all set this weekend to write an article about some views on Haiti and the November 28 elections, when I opened my homepage of BBC on my internet browser and saw the news about Wikileaks.
Reading a bit about that, I tried – and failed – to understand the politically very complex issue that has continued to develop over the past couple of days. After a good forty-five minutes of browsing the web for more information about what these leaks meant, I went back to my BBC homepage to look for more on the Haiti elections.
Naturally, having been immersed in issues of that country for the past three weeks, I was indignant at finding that Haiti did not feature in the top read news on the website that day. Nor did it appear in the top read news on the CNN website, or on the New York Times, or in the Guardian.
My passion about Haiti and the change (or not) that it is going through isn’t necesarrily someone else’s passion. This is obvious enough, but in that moment it struck me as something particularly eye-opening. I had waded into the issue of Haiti, far enough that mostly when I was reading the news, I was looking for news on that particular country. My focus was Haiti, and I didn’t understand why it wasn’t everyone else’s.
This is particularly hypocritical, considering I had neglected, in my ‘Haiti-immersion’ to read about Nepal, or about Burma, or about other issues that I was particularly interested in. For a moment, when the first Wikileaks article appeared on the BBC website, I had dipped my toes into that issue’s murky waters.
This is what the headlines lead us to. This is what I did myself. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day; as the headlines change, we focus on transformations happening in our world. We dip our toes. It is difficult, yet necessary, I feel, to take that leap. To dive into the murky waters and immerse ourselves in long term issues and consequences of the minute by minute changes. While the headlines make it easy to forget about the Haitian earthquake that happened nearly 11 months ago, or about the Pakistani floods, people’s immersion into these issues is what keeps them alive.
I’m not usually one to make New Year’s resolutions. I’m very pessimistic about my own ability to keep them. But this year, I’ll make one. I want to immerse myself in one issue. I want to read up on and know as much as I can about Haiti. Somewhere I’ve lived, a country dear to me. As the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake comes up, this seems more necessary than ever.
I can’t immerse myself in every issue. But I can educate the world through my immersion. Just as someone else immersed in another issue can educate me about that. Headlines and dipping our toes is important, but it’s the knee-deep ideas that will bring education, and eventually, change.