Opportunity for Progress

As Haiti continues to dig out from Tuesday’s catastrophic earthquake, projected US donations will likely total a few billion dollars. These funds will save lives, no question, and the citizenry’s generosity will again prove that the infallible and speedy actions of empowered people will always trump plodding bureaucracies.

The most cynical of observers will undoubtedly question American donors and their sincerity, opting to dismiss their kindness as somehow politically motivated or self-righteous grandstanding. While the doubters speculate, the motivated masses are seeing a need in Haiti and meeting it. This surge isn’t just composed of Hollywood elites – pseudo-philanthropists of convenience – who engage in a pissing contest to see who can pat themselves on the back the hardest. It’s not some retailers, who align their products with causes only to give a meager percentage for every exorbitant purchase. No, these donors recognize that compassion is more than buying an Ethos Water from Starbucks or a (Product)Red shirt from The Gap.

Direct, unified action births swift, perceived progress. We’ve seen this in the past few days. Cellphone users in the US have donated roughly $11 million through simple text messages thus far. Twitter and Facebook campaigns leapfrogged traditional media and went straight to the people, urging one another to recognize a glaring need and to give. So far, the response is staggering.

At the heart of this movement are people – working and retired folks, moms, dads, couples, singles, students, rich, poor and everyone in between. All giving something.

And during this tremendous outpouring we ask: What must we do to keep this train moving? and Why do we wait for catastrophe to extend a hand, to offer our sympathies and convey our understanding of one another?

Let’s remember that US missiles with near-million dollar price tags displaced families and killed innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Let’s remember that the funds to build one F-16 fighter jet could help rebuild a war-torn country, provide medicine to sick children and feed starving families.

Let’s remember our own city’s homeless, who will sleep in cars or out in the elements tonight, having no promise of a meal tomorrow.

Let’s remember those families in our proximity who, no fault of their own, won’t have the funds to pay the power bill this month.

How about a collection for them, too?

May this awful tragedy in Haiti remind us of the power of a focused, compassionate humanity, identifying needs and meeting them unconditionally. Moreover, let’s keep our eyes open for each other here in the states as well. Then perhaps “Progress”, “Hope” and “Change” will become more to us than just fanciful, campaign rhetoric.


  1. Unfortunately most of this seems to be societal pressures. Emotions such as guilt, pride, sympathy are being forced onto people until they reach critical mass and extend a hand.

    If the news, friends and communities weren’t talking about this as much as they are then hardly any of these people who are offering support would be doing so. Even if they were aware of what happened.

    The problem with the contemporary individual is they want the benefits of being being an “individual” and have all these individual rights but when it comes to taking responsibility or thinking for themselves they lean on the collective to make those decisions for them.

    Hmm, yes I think this comment has provided me with a topic for Lounge.

  2. No question, people are pushed into giving. Darfur had that monster Hollywood push that certainly got folks noticing a few years ago. My first reaction was to disregard every “Save Darfur” advocate as a dumbass, mindlessly taking a sympathetic stance for a country they probably couldn’t identify on a map. But then again I wasn’t helping by criticizing, and nobody asked for my opinion anyway. So I let the little fuckers have their fun.

    Appreciate the thoughts, Anthony. I’ll be looking for your post.

    1. What pissed me off about Darfur was anybody who did any research would know why the United States wasn’t getting involved there. Yet everybody who cared about Darfur just blindly cried out “Why aren’t you helping them?” Well if you would get off your lazy ass and do some research you would see that China is all over Sudan providing arms in exchange for oil.


      That’s from 2004. The United States isn’t about to cross the chief country that we import enormous amounts of material goods from. Human suffering sucks, I’m not advocating it but frankly people are so unwilling to accept reality that they end up wasting their time protesting something that will not change and nothing gets done. Ugh, better stop now or I’ll end up ranting.

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