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Haiti and the Modern Opportunity

January 14th, 2010

The tragic events in Haiti have left me reeling.  One of the byproducts of such a technologically-advanced age is that we have instantaneous information, photographs, and videos of events almost simultaneous with their occurrences.   As a history guy, I’m blown away by the implications of this feature of our modern society.

In recent modern history, news of major events and catastrophes took at least hours, oftentimes days and weeks to reach the public ear.  These days, that period has been reduced to seconds or minutes.  Thus, you and I can pick up our iPhones and watch history as it unfolds before us.

The result is that we should feel more intensely the humanity within the crisis.  We should see their faces and realize that they don’t live a world away; they live just a few hours away by plane . . . a few seconds away by digital airwave.  They have names. Faces.  Twitter accounts.  Facebook pages.  Dreams.  Fiancees.  Children. They are us living in a different reality that could easily be our reality tomorrow.

So the world is smaller in this respect.  The flip side is that along with speedier and more accurate information comes a greater capacity to respond.  I’ve been positively shocked by the Twitter and Facebook efforts of common folks like us in their own personal relief efforts.  Promoting relief websites where people can give.  Organizing supply drives.  Raising awareness along with funds.

It reminds me that we’ve been given opportunities in this age that no one in history has had before us.  With one click, we can communicate with Moscow or Zambia.  We can give money without writing or mailing checks.  We can make a difference from our living rooms and offices.

For all the often true criticism of the perils of modern technology upon our society, in this moment I see God-given potential to respond in ways the world has never known.  Where was God when the earthquake hit?  He was there.  He still is.  He’s also right here with you and me . . . and we have the opportunity to touch the lives of the broken all over this world.  He’s given us this opportunity.

Greater opportunities mean greater changes to squander them . . . but they also mean greater potential to do something that matters.  I pray that each of us embrace our opportunities today while we can.  Pray for Haiti.


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