After the earthquake in Haiti, I saw the following status update pop up on Facebook:
“America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment – yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won’t have the guts to copy and repost this.. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME”
It seems every time a terrible tragedy in a foreign country generates a lot of donations and charitable events in the US, people forget what charity means. When large amounts of money are sent overseas, there will always be people who say “what about the people right here in America who need help?” The question is, how much help are those people willing to offer to the Americans who need it? Are they donating to charities? What are their opinions on welfare, health care reform, and tax breaks for the poor? Do they volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, etc.? How many of these people are actually doing something to help instead of just complaining that too much money is being sent to other countries when it is needed right here in America?
I donated to help the survivors of the earthquake and hope that Haiti is able to recover from this tragedy. I also donated to help the animal population affected by the earthquake. I wasn’t able to donate a lot, but I donated what I could. A dollar can’t do much on its own these days, but if everyone in the US donated a few dollars, think of the difference we could make! And that’s exactly what happened last week; how could helping others ever be a bad thing?
I recognize that there are areas of great need here in America; I have donated money and time to local causes too. I would love to see something done to help solve the problem of poverty in the US too, but I’m not convinced that the American people would be willing to step up for that cause as enthusiastically as they did for Haiti. Too many people seem to believe that poor Americans should be able to help themselves. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone make disparaging remarks about the homeless or people on welfare (for example, the ever popular “get a job”), then maybe I could solve the poverty problem on my own. Yes, there are people who abuse the system, but should everyone suffer because those people exist? Opportunistic scammers came out of the woodwork to collect after Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 too, but we helped – because we could, and because it was the right thing to do. What solution would you offer to get help to those who need it and prevent people from taking advantage? I’m afraid a change like that is way beyond me. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can to help a little bit at a time wherever I can.