I read a news article about the earthquake that hit Haiti for the first time today. Really.

I think I found out about the earthquake from a co-worker the first day after it happened, but (as insensitive and rude as it might be) I didn't really care to read about misery in a far-off place and significantly upgrade the amount of misery I processed in one day/week. Yeah, I guess I became one of those people who think: Why does there have to be so much BAD news in the news?

Obviously, it's an important news story. It just didn't drag me in.

Then, I started seeing commercials about donating to help Haiti via text message. I didn't quite understand how texting would help until I ran across a news column explaining that the money would go to the American Red Cross and that the donation would be added to your next phone bill. I can handle an extra $10 on my phone bill, so I considered texting. And actually did it this morning. (Here's another article about texting fundraising.)

But I still didn't read. Based on the headlines, I guessed: Haiti was a relatively poor country before the earthquake, so people are probably starving now. What infrastructure they have was probably destroyed (at least in some places), so water and sewer systems, etc., probably aren't working. Desperate people were probably looting and terrorizing those who weren't looting. Humanitarian aid would be too slow to get there, because when you are starving and thirsty, unless aid is there right now, it's too slow.

And, I'll be honest. I vaguely wondered where exactly Haiti was. I was pretty sure it was in the general area of Cuba. (It is. You can check out the CIA World Factbook profile of Haiti here.)

I also figured a lot of people died. Way more than in Sept. 11 or Hurricane Katrina. News coverage of both demanded my almost-undivided attention for hours, but both those happened at a time when I didn't have a full-time job. Or worry about managing my stress levels.

But now, I have a full-time job and do actively try to manage my stress so I can approach the problems I face as calmly and clearly as possible. I figure I have the ability to affect change in the situations in my personal sphere, but the change I could (potentially) effect in the situation in Haiti is so minimal that it's not worth expending the emotional energy involved in absorbing news coverage there. I might feel differently if I knew someone with relatives/friends/acquaintances in Haiti, but I don't.

Is this attitude insensitive? Politically incorrect? Another example of an elitist American attitude that undervalues Third World (non-white) cultures? Or is it an example of humans relating better to the local than the global?

I'll let you decide. :)
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