Yesterday as I was driving home, I heard a guy call in to a local radio show, the Pat White Show. I don't know why I listen. I think it's because I find things out about local politics and events that I might miss otherwise, but every show is a form of torture. Pat has a few unidiomatic stock phrases that drive me batty. He seems to have about four talking points for each topic that he repeats in response to callers, whether they make sense or not. And he has the peculiar stubborn ignorance of those who have almost no information, but know what they know.
As a result, some of his callers are doozies. It was on his show about a month ago that we heard a couple of callers who were outraged over health care reform because they had understood that the government was going to be paying for health care. Why was congress looking at tax increases and ways to pay. The GOVERNMENT was supposed to pay. They didn't seem to understand that the government has no money of its own. (Unless you count the baseless money that rolls off the printing presses, which is a debt burden to our children and theirs.)
Anyway. Last night's gem of colossal ignorance was arguing that before the American people send money to Haiti they need to take care of things here. That people here are in a "hard time" and that money shouldn't be going overseas.
Excuse me? Even before the earthquake, Haiti was a land of horrible poverty. I don't think most Americans--and certainly not the caller, calling from his CELLPHONE in his CAR--understand what true, barely surviving, poverty means. When the poor here have TVs, cell-phones, and grab a happy meal at McDonald's for their kids, we have a warped view of what hunger, deprivation, and want mean. And I hope we remain removed from those things, although I fear that we won't. How can anyone with a heart see the pictures coming from Haiti and hear of the people dead and dying and not wish to help?
I know there are some people in our country who are in financial hard times and instability. They needn't feel guilty if they can't help the Haitians monetarily. If they are making a choice between feeding their families or sending money to Haiti, they need to feed their families. But for those of us who are choosing between two lattes or texting a $10 donation to Haiti, or a nice dinner out and sending $100 to Lutheran world Relief or the American Red Cross...well, the Haitians need our help.
And that doesn't preclude helping out someone here at home who is in need, too.