Non-Americans are people, too

Please, do what you can to help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross. (AP photo/Gerald Herbert)

Earlier this week, my former employer, the Great Falls Tribune, published an article written by a member of its Teen Panel urging people to  donate what they can to relief efforts in Haiti. She traveled to the island last year to volunteer with her dad and was deeply affected by her experiences there. It’s a touching article, really, and it symbolizes the compassion many Americans have when tragedies like the one in Haiti strike.

Then it got ugly.

After reading the article, some online commenters — we’ll  call them ‘callous, insensitive idiots’ for our purposes here — thought it appropriate to post that America isn’t responsible for helping the people of Haiti and that they should just fend for themselves. I couldn’t believe it at first, either.

Now, I know I shouldn’t let things like this get to me, but I can’t help it. It got me riled up. And my mind just can’t let it go, especially after hearing the news of a 6.1-magnitude aftershock striking this morning.

What bothered me the most about the offending comments was that the people who made them seem to think that because those affected by the earthquake are not Americans, their lives are not as important, and we especially shouldn’t be helping them given our current economic situation. Then they defended their statements as ‘patriotic.’ If that’s what defines ‘patriotism’ these days, I want nothing to do with it.

I’m not that patriotic in the first place, and I’ve never really felt bad about it, either. I know (or hope, at least) that people who think like this represent a minority of ‘patriotic’ people in this country, but it’s comments like theirs that reinforce my convictions.

I truly hope all Americans realize how fortunate we are to have been born — through no virtue of our own, really, but through those before us — in a free, democratic and wealthy country that can weather hardship and come out of it stronger than before. The majority of the world’s people, including those in Haiti, aren’t so lucky.

I agree it’s important to consider the needs of our country, especially when many Americans are struggling right now. But we have the resilience to pull through hardship; Haiti does not. There are people in the world who need help more than we do, and the fact that they’re not American shouldn’t matter. We live in a global society, and we are, above all, humans first, Americans second.

So, to all the people who think like those commenters: There’s nothing wrong with considering yourself proud to be an American. But please, realize how lucky you are to be one, too.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by BS on January 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I”m always proud of you, sometimes more than others! 🙂

    Reply

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