Who is my neighbor anyway?
Let me be honest. I get along just fine with my neighbors, but I like to mind my own business and let them mind theirs. Bottom line: I don't love my neighbors as much as I love myself. And if you're honest, you have to admit you love yourself more too. I know I'm supposed to love my neighbor as myself, but give me a break -- I'm no Mother Teresa.
Who is my neighbor anyway? I don't have any relatives in Haiti and most of the folks down there aren't even the same color as I am. Besides, this earthquake is their own fault. Pat Robertson, the television evangelist, says this earthquake is God's punishment for a business deal the Haitians made centuries ago. The legend is the Haitians were under the heel of the French and wanted to break free, so they made a pact with the devil. Robertson said, "We'll serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so the devil said, OK, it's a deal. And ever since they have been cursed by one thing or another."
Besides, there are practically no building codes in Haiti so their buildings crumble with the least amount of shock or pressure. They should build their buildings the way we do in this country and most of them would still be standing.
Rush Limbaugh says American disaster aid to Haiti is just a big political deal for President Obama anyway. "Everything this President sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and so he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world and to accuse the Republicans as having no compassion." He claimed the White House response would bolster Obama's standing with the "light skinned and dark skinned black community in this country." For those reasons he discouraged help for Haiti saying, "We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the income tax." He said contributions will only encourage the Haitians to be lazy. Mr. Limbaugh needs to watch his dollars. He signed an eight-year contract for $400 million two years ago and he has no job security after 2016. There could be some rainy days ahead.
Who is my neighbor anyway? Haitians aren't Americans -- mostly they have French names. To them, English is a foreign language, and the island isn't even connected to the United States. Did they help us when New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina? Compassion is for bleeding hearts.
But day after day there has been a barrage of newspaper and TV images of dead bodies, arms, legs, heads sticking out of piles of rubble, orphans, crying children, crying mothers, crying dads, crying grandparents, desperate searchers, the hurt, the wounded, the bloody, the grieving, the frustrated, the angry, the thirsty, the hungry, the stunned, the confused, the suffering, nurses waiting for doctors, doctors without help, lines waiting for medical help, surgery being performed outside on a golf course, temporary tents, people sleeping outside on the ground, people pushing and shoving for food and water, bricks, blocks, steel, wood, stones, dirt, powder, crushed cars and trucks, debris, destroyed hospitals, crushed orphanages, collapsed government buildings and cathedrals, flattened homes and business buildings, shacks, hovels, shelters and streets and roads blocked from all directions. And more -- much more.
I was going to sit this one out and pass by on the other side. Then I remembered a foreigner, the Good Samaritan, and a line from a Jaycee Creed years ago -- "The brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations." After a while it gets to you and the words of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh sound more like unfeeling mockery than common sense or ordinary decency. When the streets and roads are blocked from one side to the other with the bent, the broken and the dead, it is not possible to look the other way and not see and then to pass by on the other side. There is no other side. Yes, these are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters and we are compelled as a country and as individuals, human beings, to care and to help.