Oh Haiti. One of the nations of the world which is least prepared for a disaster has had a devastating blow. One of my old high school friends posed the question, "Why should we care what happens to that country in this disaster? Would they do the same for us?"
I read his question and then sat back to think about it. People were replying right and left in a reactionary manner and I just wanted to think that over. It's true sometimes that the US and a select group of other nations seem to be coming to the rescue of others at times. And it is true that this puts a drain on our already fragile economic situation. And my answer to my friend would be this,
"No Phil, we don't HAVE to do anything to help anyone in this world. But we if we CAN we SHOULD."
Blessings have overflowed in our nation. Even in economic scares most of us have beans and rice to spare, running water, health care, and a place to live. If we live with a model of only giving assistance to those who give back to us equally -- well, I can't bear to think about the attitude that society would be acting upon in order for that to happen. To turn our backs on those in need sets us back centuries into the era before what we considered a modern civilization existed. There is no way that Haiti could even begin to overcome this devastation without some assistance. The rules of basic humanity call for us to help with our capabilities.
And it has been no surprise to me how many people have actively participated in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other online communities and forums. This has enabled people to participate in some way constructively...and they have by the millions. Just a week ago a new term became part of the technology landscape. As thousands of ladies posted their bra color on facebook in their status line. It's been termed as one of the most successful viral public relations campaigns to date. But skeptics posed the question whether people participated only because it was easy and that those people were not really activists in the true meaning of the word, rather Slacktivists. So slacktivism has joined our vocabulary.
People like to feel good about themselves and so by doing these type of participatory activities the question is can the effort go beyond this idea. In the Haiti emergency I believe we got our answer. Americans (and others) are willing to step up and do what they can to help when made AWARE of these situations. And maybe that frivolous bra color campaign prepares us to really step us and participate during this emergency.
Expression of concern and involvement in the needs of others...can that be all bad? Haiti, you are in our thoughts and prayers.