As our hearts open and our charitable dollars pour into Haiti, my faith in the human capacity to give is renewed. We have it within us to pull one of the poorest countries in the Americas from the rubbles of a devastating catastrophe and aid in rebuilding their lives. Our government and those around the world are championing this mobilization and have moved with haste to Haiti’s rescue. From compelling images on television to stirring words and pleas from our churches and charitable organizations, we have all been moved to act on behalf of our Haitian brothers and sisters.
I am struck, as I watch our actions, with this question: Is it possible to perceive our brothers and sisters in the United States who lack healthcare as worthy of any of that compassion we are so capable of evoking when a catastrophe as the one in Haiti strikes? Is it possible to perceive our brothers and sisters in the United States who may not be trapped under concrete rubble, but are trapped in inaccessibility to the privilege of healthcare services, as worthy of some of our compassion? They may not have loved ones who have died in this natural disaster, but who are, nonetheless, susceptible to another type of catastrophe or death. A private catastrophe, unnoticed by Washington bureaucrats, or any charitable organization, or the wide lens of television, in which a child loses a parent to some disease because the parent wasn’t privy to preventative care. Is the grief any less tragic?
My suspicion is that we are afraid to champion the cause of reform because somehow we feel our own comfort will be shaken. I fear that we may think those without healthcare deserve this because they are unwilling to work hard enough (like we have) to acquire decent enough jobs that carry health benefits. I would love to know that we here in the United States can evoke the unbiased, unselfish responsibility and compassion that we have shown to Haiti to those here in the United States and support the need to care for all of our citizens, and not let the fear of change trap our hearts and cloud our ability to support this cause of human compassion.