I'm far from home, in an intense teaching situation--three-hour classes streaming along nightly--and thus far too busy to pay attention to politics or world events or the NFL playoffs, although since Green Bay is already planning next year, my football interest has waned.
What I'm saying is, I'm far too busy to watch Haiti. Occasionally, throughout my day, I'll surf through CNN and Drudge and HuffPost, just to see the latest; but I've got time for little more than headlines as the perceived death tolls rises. Now, I believe, the estimates are reaching hundreds of thousands.
At night, by ten, I'm exhausted, but too exhausted to sleep, so I switch on CNN or MSNBC until I can't take it. I've got this factory-installed governor in me, something akin to an on/off switch that dictates what spare hours I can give to the tragedy.
Years ago, I taught a Literature of the Holocaust course, and found, with a month or so left, that I had absolutely no more capacity for things Treblinka or Dachau. I couldn't read another word. I'd hit some kind of human Waterloo, and going forward was deeply painful. Yes, I finished the semester, but my appetite (bad word, but it fits somehow) for human suffering was beyond full.
The earthquake on Haiti certainly isn't the same thing, but maybe it's worse because there really is no one to blame, Pat Robertson notwithstanding. What happened there was shifting foundation beneath the most precariously outfitted sailing ship in the Caribbean, disaster striking disaster.
But I can't watch long, and I don't know if that's good or bad. The hurt is too painful, the human loss too unimaginable. Are we gifted with governors, with limits, with defiantly limited capacities for human suffering? Is it a good thing that I just can't watch for more than an hour?
Or am I just another Disney cartoon, a Mickey Mouse in this vale of tears?
I don't know if my own pitifully scant capacity for such sadness is a blessing or a curse.
But on this Sunday morning, literally, all I can do is pray for Haiti. That much is all.