Written by Shelley Plett Tuesday, 09 February 2010 20:04
“A spiritually healthy love for the world desires to give something. A spiritually sick love for the world desires to get something from it.” —E.G.”Jay” Link, minister and CEO of Kardia Inc.
It’s been one of those weeks online. Haiti’s earthquake, almost a month later, is still at the top of nearly every news cast. The stories get more tragic. So do the online posts like the two below, from blogs, networking and random news sites.
“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 percent of people won’t have the guts to copy and repost this.” (Facebook)
A blog post said: “I know Haiti had a bad earthquake—but what about the financial earthquake that hit us? Now, don’t get me wrong I feel for the people of Haiti and it is tragic that they lost everything due to a natural disaster…. No one got on several TV stations and pulled together a telethon for our issues. To help those of us who lost everything, our jobs, our homes, our families…. We need help here is our own country! Why is our country sending resources abroad that we need here for our own? Why are we not helping each other here in our own backyard”(community.fox4kc.com/_Help-America-Not-Haiti/blog/1779793/96364.html).
Giving the originators of these two statements the benefit of the doubt, I am guessing that in a roundabout way, they meant to say “charity begins at home.”
A little harsh though, aren’t they? The first one from Facebook, makes the least sense. America’s the only country with homeless and starving children and untreated mentally ill?
I haven’t seen Third-World poverty firsthand, but the reports that come back from mission workers and reporters have show a crystal clear picture about poverty levels.
Which country deserves help first? I’m not willing to answer that question; I couldn’t if I wanted to. But it should be obvious that comparing America’s “financial earthquake” to Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake is a stretch.
There’s a pretty major difference between a financial disaster and a natural disaster. America is full of homeless and needy people. It’s also full of multi-millionaires with five houses on five continents. And millions of people in between.
Haiti can’t be categorized as “one type of person” any more than America can.
The Haitian government is too corrupt to fix. Their people have low IQs. Haiti signed a pact with the devil. These are the things that some people are spouting off. Are you personally and directly responsible for what every American government official does?
If a tornado touched down in the middle of the United States tomorrow and killed more than 100,000 people, destroyed half of the buildings, left 300,000 homeless, and left the survivors with no choice but to pile 7,000 corpses in mass graves, would other able-bodied countries be justified in saying, “Don’t send any money to America. They’re all greedy anyway and you don’t know where your money will end up?”
If American people and organizations had not given to Haiti, would they have given that money to an American charity? Probably not. Obviously there is money to give, no matter what the bottom line says. And obviously, for anyone who has seen the news, there is a whole new level of need after a natural disaster like this one.
In Port-au-Prince, it’s not about gathering up their belongings and moving down the street to find a new job. It’s about a woman wondering if her missing 9-year-old daughter is buried under rubble that will take years to move or a man carrying his mother’s corpse to the top of a hill because he has nowhere else to put her body.
Maybe we’re struggling with how to balance our own guilt with the real need. We would really like to give more but we’re strapped for time and cash. So we justify it by saying the greater need is somewhere else, and that may get us off the hook for doing anything.
There’s not one person on earth who is qualified to prioritize which person most deserves help. But we have to make a decision anyway if we’re looking to be charitable.
It’s OK to send $50 to a soup kitchen on Main Street. And it’s OK to send $50 to Haiti.
The world’s not so big.