In the 1990s, if you wanted a TV shoot done depicting voodoo practices, chances are you’d probably have contacted me. In a short amount of time I field produced shoots on voodoo in Los Angeles (for UPN’s Strange Universe) and in Havana, Cuba (“santeria” worship for A&E).
But my most challenging assignment was directing a major series of 1995 segments in and around Port au Prince, Haiti. This was part of the “Ancient Mysteries” series for A&E. The 2 hour special went on to win an Aurora Award and be nominated for an Emmy.
Haiti was – as I documented in my recent book, Commando Tactics for Digital Filmmakers – the most difficult shoot I have EVER done in my career.
Manipulation, evil spirits, demonic possession, stilted communication, trickery…the list goes on. Never have I felt forces pushing against everything I was attempting to accomplish.
Now we have the Haiti earthquake. The collapsed Presidential Palace? Been there. Hundreds of bodies buried at Hotel Montana? Stayed there. Homes and businesses reduced to mere rubble in the capital city? Drove the same streets.
Haiti is familiar to me. But their catastrophic devastation is not.
Was Pat Robertson correct in saying that Haiti made a pact with the devil centuries before to defeat Napoleon? Probably. (I had read the same history lessons when preparing for my Haiti shoot.) Did that possible arrangement mean Haitians deserved such a calamity wrought by the recent 7.0 earthquake? No.
Doesn’t matter. Because when scores of bodies are buried in rubble, timing – and message – is everything. Lost in the blogosphere confusion, and understandable anger, is the fact that Rev. Robertson’s Operation Blessing does great, compassionate relief & aid work worldwide.
But Pat needed to pick a much better moment. Or table his opinions for another decade. Pat needed to cite the God of the New Testament (Mercy!), not the God of the Old Testament (Judgment!). But Pat’s old school: that’s why he shoots from the lip.
I have my own personal theories about Haiti, including some thoughts about the country’s recurring cycle of poverty, greed and corruption. And her extremely evil tendencies.
But other far more accomplished reporters and commentators have spoken with much better wisdom about Haiti in modern times than I could ever muster.
All I know is that Haiti, and Haitians, need the world’s help. If we as a country (USA) stood by without responding, we might lose our own humanity in the process…and our compassionate souls.
And our response so far – including the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid, medicine and financial support donated so far – is what really counts.
Never kick someone when they’re down, literally.