Saturday, January 16, 2010

Campbell Brown and the human face of the devastation in Haiti

An 11-year old girl who was pulled alive from the rubble of her house in Haiti has died:

The girl -- one of scores trapped beneath buildings that collapsed in Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake -- was rushed to a first aid station Thursday evening where doctors told her family they were not equipped to deal with her injuries. Her right leg had been pinned by a large piece of metal for two days.

She died before her relatives could drive her to a more sophisticated hospital outside Port-au-Prince.

Her last words, her uncle said, were, "Mother, don't let me die." She was buried Friday in her mother's hometown, her uncle said.

There are obviously so many stories like this in Haiti, with the death toll in the tens and tens of thousands, but the immediacy and intimacy of a single story like this can, in a way, be so much more powerful, and so much more devastating, than the detachment of a report of such a massive death toll, which is so overwhelming, so horrific, as to be virtually incomprehensible. Speaking personally, while I was strongly affected by 9/11, what ultimately led me to break down on numerous occasions -- and one time in particular, alone in my apartment, listening to the head of Cantor Fitzgerald talk about what happened to his firm, which lost 658 employees on 9/11 -- were those more immediate and intimate stories. It's just easier, I think, to relate to, and feel touched by, the loss of a single human being, or to such personal stories generally, than to the loss of countless people in a tragedy like 9/11 or the Haiti earthquake. It's not that we shouldn't try to understand a tragedy in full, just that the more immediate and intimate stories help us do that more than just those big-picture stories. They help us put a face on the suffering.

Reporting on the loss of that 11-year old girl in Haiti, CNN's Campbell Brown expressed the sort of humanity we don't see nearly enough of on the news -- see the video below. She held herself together, but she showed some emotion, and very nearly broke down, and for that I commend her. I realize that those in the news need to put shields up, but sometimes it's nice when those shields come down so that they, and we, can understand, and communicate, what is happening with greater authenticity. No, we don't need them all turning into emotive Glenn Becks -- Beck, after all, is quite possibly insane -- but it's good and refreshing to see them acting like human beings now and then.

As C&L's Nicole Belle put it earlier today: "If only more talking heads in this country could move past their own limited binary thought of politics to recognize that there is no Left/Right, no Democratic/Rebublican paradigm to this story. There is only humanity and more importantly, human suffering, to which we, as fellow humans, are obligated to respond."

There are some notable and despicable exceptions, like Beck and Rush Limbaugh, but much of humanity is responding with admirable feeling, as well as with concrete support, to the suffering in Haiti.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home