Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Question of Social Justice

Lately I've noticed what, to me is a disturbing trend. Every time I read an article on-line about someone doing good things, the article is followed by comments from naysayers who are critical of those who try to make the world a better place. Maybe it's nothing new, but is becoming more obvious because of our interactive world.

The most recent example is the story of Tara Livesay. She is part of an amazing family living in Port au Prince, Haiti. The Livesays are a family filled with compassion (a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering). Tara Livesay set out to raise $5,200 to help severely malnourished children in Haiti. When she was done, she had raised over $63,000 (that number is still on the rise since this article was written). Read about her here.

The comments following these types of stories seem to have a common theme; others are not as important as us. Read the comments following the article about Tara, and you will see remarks like, "Why not help the children in the US? Why are we always so willing to help other countries but yet we forget that we have families here that struggle?" Or this gem, "Haitians won their independence some 205 years ago, not that long after we won our independence. If they can't get their act together in that time I suggest it is unlikely that they ever will on their own."

In a separate article about Compassion International's president, Wess Stafford recently, rather than appreciate what he's doing to help children living in poverty, some wrote comments like, "How many poverty stricken children in the USA does this ministry help?" "More promotional evangelicalism hidden as a new report." "I could point out a number of areas in the US where children are going hungry but that wouldn't matter 'cause they're Americans."

Here is my response:

• Different people find different causes to be important to them. If we all supported the same cause there would be far less balance and justice in this world.

• Just because people like Tara and Wess are helping those who are suffering abroad, that does not stop you from helping those who need help where you are.

• I think we should support those who get off the couch, and do something good, rather than criticize them from the comfort of our living room.

Here's what I want to know from you.
• Do you really think that poverty in the U.S. is as bad as it is in Haiti or other impoverished countries?

• Do you believe that we should only take care of people in our own country, and let people abroad fend for themselves?

• What cause do you believe in?


  1. No, I don't think poverty is as bad in the U.S. as it is in Haiti. The very poorest among us (Americans) are wealthy by comparison to most Haitians. There is no question. Of course, there are poor people everywhere. I have traveled to Haiti multiple times and have been changed by the experience.

    No, I don't believe we should let others fend for themselves just because they happen to live outside our borders. That's just dumb ? selfish ? (I can't think of a nicer way to say it) at any rate, I think that we all find causes/activities/people that we are interested in and we help where we can. I could not agree more with you statement "I think we should support those who get off the couch, and do something good, rather than criticize them from the comfort of our living room."

    I don't have one specific cause that I care about-other than to love and help others, whenever, however I can. I care about children's issues, women's issues, poverty, and a bunch of other stuff. I try to focus on people God places in my line of sight and help when He prompts me to help, however I can.

  2. I read this post a few days ago and I can't stop thinking about it. we are also adopting from Haiti and have been asked "why not here?"
    a number of things come up:
    *kids here are given health care and free schooling--not in other countries.
    So, no, from what I have seen the poverty is the US is not as bad. I hate to talk about poverty like that...but mudcakes?
    *we don't see the world with borders. By taking care of our own, we think that means "human beings"
    *everyone is called to a certain cause, place, mission, plan. Some are called to nothing, or do not hear it. I hate when people see "good" as "bad"
    *How do people know that while helping people in Haiti, the Livesays, aren't also helping people here?
    I think we should take care of each other, where ever, and whoever, and however. We are adopting from Haiti, donating to our O, donating to the local Rescue Mission, collecting food at school in the drives for the local pantry, etc...I have many causes. If I hear the call, and if I can, I help. But I can't always.
    This post has been very thoughtful to me. I haven't worked it all out yet, but I wanted to come back and jot a few things down because I thought you deserved some comments for writing it.

  3. The couple of times I have been asked why we aren't adopting a child from here, my response has been, "Why aren't YOU adopting a child from here?"

    As I wrote on my blog, at this point in time, God is calling us to Ethiopia. You either get that, or you don't.

    Michael I would like to point you to this blog that is a woman I know, whose son is not being let out of Haiti: