Around you now, at a cafe, on the street, in the next apartment, there’s a person sighing deeply, bracing for the day. Not so much the tasks that weigh heavy, but what we make of them: our attitudes, our expectations. We think the worst not because we want, but because it’s happened before, and it hurts less than hope.

And it’s all the same between us. The twenty-something sighing because she lost her iPhone charger is no less worthy of compassion than the father worried about his children. Our struggles are relative to whom we’ve become. The yardstick we imagine of better and worse is as fluid as the weather. The woman who has no money for food has an easy smile and talks easily with a stranger on the subway. The Harvard son with manicured nails looks at the floor, trapped in himself, afraid to cross the chasm, empty.

So when we talk of “poor” when it comes to Haiti, one should keep relativity in mind. Haitians have each other in a way we’ve mostly lost.

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