This week, the island of Haiti suffered an massive earthquake that shook not only the foundations of that country, I believe it has shaken the foundations of many people in this country. With that, a new mixture of emotions that I have not encountered before overcomes me.
Part of me feels the pain of the people of Haiti and the weight of their sorrow, fear and despair. Their desperate need has become a worldwide focal point. People from all over the country are pulling money out of pockets and piggy banks to give to support relief agencies. Trucks, planes and ships loaded with food, medicine and building equipment and supplies are making their way into the country. The generosity and the responsiveness of the American people in times like this make me proud to be an American.
Then there is the other part of me that I’m not sure what to do with… This part of me is angry. The people of Haiti have been suffering for decades. They have endured years of neglect right under the noses of the same Americans that are now overwhelmed with a newfound sense of responsibility to help.
There is an index called the Human Development Index. It is a ranking of the overall living conditions for a country. The U.N. Human Development Index rates countries based on their achievements in terms of life expectancy, education, and income. It also takes into account things like accessibility to clean water, and infant mortality. The ranking lists countries from 1 (being best) to 182 (being poorest). As poor as Haiti is, it was ranked #149 out of 182. Below are countries that are even in poorer. Oh, yea…and we are bombing one of them!
163. Côte d’Ivoire
176. Republic of the Congo
177. Burkina Faso
179. Central African Republic
180. Sierra Leone
So, I guess when I watch all the TV coverage of the devastation in Haiti, I get angry when I think that at this very moment, their are people in 33 additional countries that have living conditions that may even be worse…and we all know it.
I ran across a statistic that said in 2007, Americans spent over 20 billion dollars on ice cream. That is enough money to provide everyone in the world with clean water and food.
Another statistic reports that 50 billion dollars a year would completely wipe out world hunger…completely. That’s $162 per person per year. The average American spends between $800 and $1,200 per year in restaurants alone.
Yea, I guess I’m angry…and I’m also a bit embarrassed that I am one of the many Americans that look past the needs of so many…so often…$162…I think I’ll go get my checkbook.