I’m deliberately now getting to this. I read his letter/post a few hours ago after hearing about it this afternoon. It merited some thought, because my initial reaction was that I agreed, and felt totally repentant.
You see, for the lack of polish that his statement was – and the resulting consequences all around the web and through his employer ESPN towards it – Shirley spoke with the kind of conviction that demands that he changes, we change, and that Haiti changes. For all of the talk about the history of Haiti, what we (USA) have enabled there in terms of the quality of life, etc., we have a great responsibility not to be so apathetic that we throw money at issues without addressing them.
Maybe the curse that Pat Roberson spoke of really needs to shine on us as an indictment (versus shining on him only, or us distancing ourselves from his comment). Because, if we really cared those people, we would have been more preventive from the knowledge of previous disasters so that this one wouldn’t have been so devastating (or maybe it would have because in trying to prevent, and something occurring, we would have had our ego crushed by God’s actions that don’t need our approval to occur or not occur).
In my opinion, Paul Shirley should not have been let go. At least not for that kind of accountability. He did exactly what mature adults should do in situations like that – look in the mirror and ask the real and heart-wrenching question of maturity: “do I really love my neighbor as I love myself if I allow them to stay in the state they are in that I am empowered to get them out of?”
The Gospels speak of the end of days, and how two groups will stand before Jesus. The group on the right has their deeds spoken of them like an awards letter, “you clothed me, you visited me, you fed me… come and enter into my rest.” However, those on his left get the opposite acclimation letter, “you didn’t clothe me, you never visited me, you left me hungry… depart from me you workers of iniquity.”
Even though we went over there to assist, did we give them the fruit of a life that won’t be the same because we not only fed them, but taught them to eat? Or, did we just package up a microwave miracle, quick to cool off and be no more filling or hot than it was before we arrived?
For those in Haiti, Paul Shirley’s letter was a call to step up and accept responsibility as much as they are able, and when they are able. For us, its a call to stop looking at ourselves as gods, and start acknowledging that we are no better, unless we use our talents to improve the lives of all those we have influence towards.
Mr. Shirley, message received.