Jan 202010
Authors: Wade McManus

Much of Haiti has now been buried in rubble for more than a week, and international aid still struggles to reach those in need. This most recent disaster is said to be one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in decades.

It is now clear that the death count is massive: More than 50,000 bodies are already buried in mass graves. Some early estimates report the casualties to be much higher, surpassing 200,000 deaths. Many more face dire circumstances. The initial shock of the Jan. 12 earthquake was only the beginning of the long struggle that Haiti now faces.

Piles of concrete mark what once were heavily populated cities. Those lucky enough to survive are now without shelter, clean drinking water and a consistent source of food. Sanitation is a growing problem, as water treatment plants were demolished. It is clear that this poor nation needs aid. There’s no limit to the generosity that Haiti can accept.

It’s hard to imagine anything good that could come out of such a horrific tragedy. But it offers Americans a chance to show compassion and humanitarian commitment to the rest of the world. It gives our government an opportunity to show the world our international policies are more than a few endless wars in the Middle East, and that we are capable to go out of our way for those in need.

It also shows that we can still be responsible leaders in the international arena, as we lead the effort to bring much-needed aid to Haiti. It is also an opportunity to show a willingness to cooperate with the international community; rather than the common “our-way-or-the-highway” approach that we have repeatedly displayed. U.S. cooperation and collaboration can go a long way to polish our tarnished image.

This is also a time for U.S. citizens — meaning you and me — to show our support and conviction for humanitarianism and social justice. There are a number of ways for the public to get involved, to show support and to prove that Americans are not completely apathetic.

Several organizations –– this includes the Red Cross, Save the Children and UNICEF –– have already launched programs with the goal of raising the funds needed to finance what may be the biggest relief effort ever to take place in the Western Hemisphere.

We too can help in this effort — we can get creative. If you do not feel like getting too creative, you can also visit the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office on the main floor of the Lory Student Center. They have a list of organizations operating in Haiti that need your help. Don’t miss this opportunity to help your fellow man.
The worst circumstance that we as Americans, and as human beings, can do is to allow Haiti to turn into a fiasco like Hurricane Katrina. The U.S. relief effort in New Orleans was an embarrassment to the country.

If America wants to maintain legitimacy as a prominent international leader, it cannot afford another humiliating relief effort. More importantly, we as a country need to be successful to establish a good track and use that as momentum for taking on the rest of the humanitarian problems that plague the globe. Well, at least a much better effort.

If your heart feels any heavier after the tragedy in Haiti, take advantage of that emotional charge and take notice of the other tragedies that deserve our attention. Katrina and the tsunami that devastated much of Indonesia have largely been forgotten, but even in times of domestic crisis, we cannot discredit the crisis of others.
Wade McManus is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com._

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