Shelly Benson: Caring for Haiti
January 17, 2010
My boyfriend asked me why we should care about Anderson Cooper standing in Haiti giving us the gruesome details about the earthquake victims. To me, this is rather obvious; it is a big event, many people are suffering, and they are calling for help. But I think he might have asked this question for a few reasons: perhaps he is sick of hearing the bad come out of the nightly news, perhaps it is genuinely overwhelming for him, perhaps he really does not see the relevant nature of helping Haiti. But my biggest point of contention was when he asked why I should care.
I realize that millions of tragedies occur around the world on a daily basis and not all can consume our hearts, efforts and fears. That would deplete us to piles of devastated rubble, unless you are Mother Teresa, and she did have an entourage to buffer some of the human need. The tragedies that do occur on a larger scale — like the Tahitian tsunami on Christmas 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the current Haitian earthquake — tend to get attention for the sheer size of destruction and grief.
My boyfriend argues we are all just fed by the local news what we are supposed to care about. I think media is a resource that we should all take with a grain of salt, and the fact is, we live in a world so connected by technology and communication that I can know a friend is going to get a mole removed on Facebook and Twitter, yet I am wholly disconnected to the human sitting next to me on the bus.
But this media-infiltrated society still gives me hope that it can unite people for good and connect the power of healing, relief and compassion. Heaven forbid we help someone else, and heaven forbid it might be a foreigner. Despite the crowd that tunes into entertainment TV to see what has developed with the Tiger Woods or Charlie Sheen scandals, some people have a big enough brain to filter what the mainstream media is pointing at and recognize that, yes, this is a big one. And yes, we should care because we have the money, resources and capacity to do so.
For the everyday person, perhaps the only reasonable way to respond is to donate money to the Red Cross. But at least it is doing something. For the other little disasters that occur daily or the ones that continue on a grand scale in our own country, please stand up and care about it, care about anything, care about something. Have a little faith that your caring energy will go a long way to help someone else. We might need help someday.