There was some scuttle this week among a few clients about the injustice of funds being sent abroad to Haiti when they are in need. They feel neglected, take the toll of Katrina to heart and remain hopeful that a break will come that will lessen their anxiety about opening their eyes in the morning, provided they ever closed in the first place.
This viewpoint may stir something in you; something of wishing our own poor could see the bigger picture of helping others and receiving in return. It's a poetic notion but I sense Jabbari and Karmen aren't buying it. After all, their needs are immediate too. Shelter is nebulous, food is got through any means necessary and the will to live and prosper wanes with each passing day without progress. It reads like today's script from CNN's Headline News, but it's happening here.
So what should I tell them? That these are extraordinary circumstances that require immediate action or death is certain, moreso than the devastation already endured? That among those Haitians who are surviving, there are many dying still? Everyday? That they remain closer to life, clothed and clean, even if their deepest agony is never washed away?
How do I instill the idea of global giving, the understanding that we're all connected, when Americans are inherently individualist from the time they are kindergartners? You're graded on your own merits. You advance to the next grade because you got enough points. You graduate based on your own successes and failures.
We don't raise American children in a community. Wait. We don't raise poor American children in a community. They are taught to survive, and survive alone. It's no wonder they are bitter. Global giving, fundraisers with stars and Obama's blessing are something they've been waiting on and feel they deserve. Perhaps if they, and we, understood that the betterment of someone else makes everything better it wouldn't be such a slap in the face to see money they need go overseas.
And so it is. . . me? I told them to write about it. And I may just post one of their essays on my blog. Stay tuned.