Thursday, January 28, 2010

Which Kind of Person Are You?

There is a Facebook post that a few of my friends and family have posted lately. This is it.
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.
I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't responded to these posts. At first I thought I would just ignore it. After all, we're Americans and this is what Americans do. We share our bounty with needy people around the world. And frankly, I thought that if enough of us just ignored it, it would just go away. But now I've seen it posted by a couple more people in the past few days and I can't just let it go any longer.

To be honest, I was absolutely speechless at the lack of human kindness displayed for all to see in this post. What I wanted to say at first is "Really? Are you that unkind?" or "Hey redneck, your stupid is showing."

These posts are from people whom I consider to be decent people. Seriously, I know them. They treat their dogs well and take care of their kids. Generally speaking, they have respect for seniors and people in authority. So what's the deal with this unwillingness to help the people of Haiti? After all, this fund drive is a uniquely American thing. It's one of the things I love most about America. Making a contribution is completely voluntary. No one is twisting your arm or holding a gun to your head. If you don't want to give or can't afford it, don't do it.

Well, now that I've had a few days to think about it and stew on it, I find that I do have something to say about it.

To all those who posted I ask: What are you personally doing about "homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment"? For that matter, what are you personally doing about those affected by the earthquake in Haiti?

If you are using your personal resources to make the USA the kind of place where homeless people have shelter, children don't go to bed hungry, elderly people can get the meds they need, and the mentally ill get all the treatment they need, then go ahead and criticize the Hope for Haiti Now telethon and fund-raising drive. By all means feel free to complain about individuals who are sending money to help a nation that was already one of the poorest nations in the world, where the death toll will possibly reach 200,000 people, where hundreds of thousands of people will never know what happened to their loved ones. On top of all of that, millions who once had at least a bare-bones home to live in now have no safe place to put their children to bed at night. Millions of people's already meager existence is now unbearably reduced to sleeping in a park or on a street and standing in a line to get food. Complain about people who are trying to provide safe drinking water to a place where they can't just turn on a water faucet and give their thirsty children a drink. Don't make a contribution to provide medical care to a country where surviving the earthquake with a just a broken arm or leg now means tens of thousands of people will be amputees, because there is not adequate medical care, too few doctors and not enough antibiotics.

But, I'm willing to bet that virtually every one of the people who have posted this on their Facebook status feed don't work with the homeless, the hungry, the mentally ill, or the elderly. And ... I hesitate to confuse two totally separate issues ... but I bet they don't support health care reform in the USA because they're afraid it will raise their own taxes. Never mind that minimally adequate health care for every American should be a right not a privilege. In my opinion, your health care should be provided just like your police and fire protection are provided with your tax dollars. But that's off the topic at hand.

Personally, I'm sick of people with this kind of attitude. If you are one of them, then shame on you. You see, in my experience there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who do things and there are those who complain about what other people are doing. It's true of parenting, it's true of volunteer work, it's true in neighborhoods, it's true in churches, and it's true in the workplace.

So, if you personally can't get behind the effort to assist in Haiti, at least shut up and get out of the way. We'll be happy to do it without you! But, when you are the one who needs help, and some day you will be, I hope someone has your back. And, I know they will, because that's what Americans do ... they stand up for people who need help.

If you haven't already contributed, you can donate at Hope for Haiti Now or one of many other reputable organizations. To insure your donations are going to sound charities before you send them your hard-earned money, visit GuideStar and check them out.