Saturday, February 13, 2010

We Are The World?

I have really mixed feelings posting the We Are The World 25 for Haiti video that debuted tonight during the opening ceremony for the Olympics.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not callus. I fully recognize what a horrible tragedy happened in Haiti a month ago. I know that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and that they don't have the ability to recover from the earthquake on their own. They simply must have help from all around the world. And I am sympathetic to their need and wish I could do something other than just give some money. Suffering anywhere causes me incredible grief.

But what gives me pause is that I look around our country and I see incredible suffering everyday. Not just in the poverty that is so apparent in our inner cities, but also the poverty and suffering that exists in towns all across the nation. When I was on the Urban Studies Program in Chicago one semester during college, I had class inside the Cabrini Green Housing Project, just days after 7-year old Dantrell Davis was shot and killed walking to school with his mother. I spent another day visiting a woman in her home where we couldn't take off our coats because her walls were paper thin and she couldn't afford heat; the poverty she lived in was simply heart breaking. Today we have 46 million people in the United States who have no health insurance and we refuse to do anything to insure they won't end up homeless should they get sick.

Many people believe that to provide help to people in the United States, who are living in unimaginable suffering and poverty, is socialism and that many of them claiming to need that help don't deserve it because they don't pay income taxes. Yet, in an instant, they're perfectly willing to bend over backwards for people in other countries. Why?

I know it's not PC to talk about this, but it causes me great personal strife. I actually lie awake at night thinking about this stuff. I don't understand how so many people who clearly have love in their hearts for mankind, only seem to have that love for the people they never have to see or meet. How can we just ignore the suffering that happens everyday right in our own backyards? Why can't we come together like we have for Haiti and raise money to fix some of the enormous problems we have in the United States?

I don't have any answers for the questions I've posed. I wish I did, but I don't. But I believe that we could come together, leaving politics, egos, lobbyists, and personal agendas at the door, and do what's right for our friends, family, and neighbors in the United States. If only we all believed it was as important to take care of our own as we do to care for the rest of the world. I believe it's our obligation to relieve suffering as best we can and how we do that (or don't) tells us exactly who we are. How can we, as a country, be a world leader if we don't even take care of our own citizens?


  1. Jess, I couldn't agree with you more. I have been quietly fustrated that everyone doesn't rally around our country and try to save our country. I am not heartless and of course it is important to help Haiti, but we could use a bit of this celeb focus on the good, old USA.

  2. You know, I've been feeling the same way. Yes, Haitians need a lot of help after their tragic disaster. It's a horrible thing that happened to Haiti. And I know they're very poor and need a lot of help. And sure, if celebs (and your Average Joe) can donate tons of money to help the Haitians recover, then great.

    But I've been telling my husband that I wish these celebs would also do something like this on occasion for our own citizens in need.


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