Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I guess I am in the 1%!!..........Shame on you 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.

This appeared as one of my friends’ status updates on Facebook yesterday. It infuriated me so much that I had to respond to this person. A few other people joined the discussion, and it made me realize how quickly ignorance can spread in this day and age. Here are some things that people have actually said in relation to this status update:

1. I don’t remember any telethons happening when 9/11 happened!
2. Our economy sucks! My partner has been out of work and we’re about to lose our house! Why should our government go into more debt to help out people that don’t even LIVE in our country?
3. There are too many problems in our own country, why send money to another country?! We should be helping our citizens first!
4. Why are we donating to Haiti? No one comes in and donates when WE have natural disasters!

Usually, I can ignore stuff like this, but this is making me so upset, and I can’t fully respond on facebook, so I’m going to do it in my own space. I want to respond to each of these statements. (If you were willing to make them, you’re willing to hear a response to them.)

1. There WAS a telethon after 9/11. It raised $30 million to go to families of firefighters.

2. Yes, our economy is in the toilet. Things are bad. But you can’t look yourself in the mirror and honestly compare you losing your home or your job to between 150,000 and 200,000 people DYING in an instant in a 3rd world country. Get some perspective, people.

3. Yes, we have a lot of problems. And we also have a lot of help. My wife is a social worker and my sister is a drug addict – I know for a fact there is plenty of help out there for people who want it. You don’t have a place to stay or a warm meal? Go to a shelter or a soup kitchen. At a shelter, you might have to stay clean (no drugs) and be in bed by 10pm, but hey, that’s the rule. People who don’t truly know homeless people don’t realize that almost all of them are homeless BY CHOICE, or they are mentally ill. There are places to go but they refuse to go, whether it’s out of pride, or a drug addiction or whatever. There are SO MANY programs to help people. Have trouble feeding your kids? Try WIC, a program that will deliver essentials to you if you have young kids (milk, OJ, cereal). Have a drug addiction and you want to get clean? There are THOUSANDS of low to no-cost rehabs you can get into. The healthcare crisis is a very real one, but to change that, we need a Congress who can actually get things done, and we don’t have that right now. And now that the MA voters voted in a Republican who is not determined to fight for the betterment of his people but rather determined to see Obama fail, it’s gone from bad to worse.

4. This is the worst one. Why are we donating to Haiti? No one donates to us. I can’t BELIEVE people would put that in print. Again, perspective. I researched some recent American disasters.

  • We lost about 3,000 lives on September 11. How much money other countries donated is a moot point: dozens of countries sent men and women to DIE in the war in Afghanistan, the war we started in response to 9/11. Also, we had nearly world-wide support after that tragedy, a global solidarity that the world would not stand for terrorism.
  • Hurricanes Ivan, Frances, Charley, and Rita combined took 316 lives. Combined cost: $43 billion. This earthquake in Haiti took between 150,000 and 200,000 lives. That’s almost a quarter of a million people that DIED, and died in rubble, rubble that needs cleaned up in a country where there are literally NO government services anymore. How many moms and dads is that? Moms and dads who cared for their children before and now can’t? Are these children the people you think we shouldn’t help? The earthquake turned the biggest city in that country into a refugee camp with no clean water or food, and no doctors. You know what happens when you don’t have clean water? You survived the earthquake, but guess what, now you have a severe bacterial infection, not to mention the stench of death in the humid climate you live in.
  • Hurricane Katrina, arguably the worst NATURAL disaster (not terrorism) in recent history in America. We lost 1836 people in that hurricane. It cost $84 billion dollars. I’ve heard people say, “No one came to our help during Katrina!” Perhaps you think that because of the sluggish response by the Bush administration. The reality is, 99 countries donated food, money, and supplies to us during Katrina. That’s a whole lot more than “no one.”
  • Station Fire – 2009 – Los Angeles, CA – How many people died in that fire? Two. Two firefighters. Tragic, indeed. Definitely. That fire destroyed 89 residences, 26 commercial properties, 94 outbuildings. It was terrible. I live in LA – we could see and smell smoke for nearly a month. Again, nowhere NEAR the devastation caused by this earthquake. Also? We have in place organizations that help us when things like this happen – FEMA, for one, and we have insurance. What does Haiti have? By the way – the Station Fire was not a natural disaster – it was arson.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. America’s gross domestic product per capita is $45,800. Haiti’s gross domestic product per capita is $1300. Most people there live on $1-$2 a day. Could you even get through your MORNING on $1 or $2? Not if you include the cost of your commute to work you couldn’t. Haiti has a corrupt government and has been suffering with extensive poverty. Those people had NOTHING, and now they have even less. It is a humanitarian crisis, and it will be so for months to come. Haiti is also our neighbor. Stable, healthy countries make for good neighbors – unstable countries do not (see Middle East).

What makes America the greatest country on earth is that we are able to commit to helping combat crises just like the one in Haiti. We help them because we can. Is it ideal for our government to donate $100 million to Haiti relief when we have an economic crisis on our hands? Of course not. But nothing about the disaster in Haiti is ideal, and sometimes you have to do what’s best for the population at large as opposed to what’s best for YOU. And if we don’t help others, who will help US when we need it?

I encourage all of my friends, Facebook or otherwise, to have some perspective, and thank God that you are lucky enough to live in one of the greatest (and wealthiest) countries on earth.

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