When a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti and leveled its capital, Port-Au-Prince, the world recognized the need to help the struggling country. One of the most impoverished nations in the world, Haiti has had its fair share of problems, which were only exacerbated by the earthquake and its resulting aftershocks. With hundreds of thousands dead according to a Haitian preliminary assessment, the richer nations of the world have stepped up to assist in aiding the country. The unification of these countries shows the power of empathy even in difficult economic times.
Despite their difference in attitudes and backgrounds, at the forefront of the call for donations from the American people were the current US President Barack Obama, and former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
For many Americans, the presence of George W. Bush was almost a shock. Since passing on the torch to Obama, Bush has laid low avoiding the political debates that his adviser Karl Rove has been inciting and former vice president Dick Cheney’s finger pointing.
In fact, this was part of his plan-to avoid the spotlight and not make controversial or critical comments as Obama released CIA torture memos and attempted to pass a sweeping health care bill. Bush’s long silence made his presence in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake a shocking one, but as many who have dealt with crises that attract the nation’s focus will tell, not an unprecedented one.
It has been tradition over the years for the current president to call in his predecessor and other former heads-of-state to help shepherd the nation’s humanitarian efforts. Within his presidency, Bush had experienced September 11, the Asian tsunami of 2004, and Hurricane Katrina; all events that he had called Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush to the Oval Office for.
Humanitarian needs should, and have usually always, escaped free from partisan name-calling. Not many tea partiers will be so brash as to criticize Obama for sending the needed aid into Haiti for humanitarian efforts despite the cost it may accrue for taxpayers. When people are dying or hurting and cannot get the care they need, most people can empathize and try to help.
The principle of looking out for each other as a responsibility of the human race is innate. People across the world have acted with compassion these last two weeks, looking for anything that they can give that would be able to help the people of Haiti.
Perhaps that is the reason that Hope for Haiti Now, the MTV telethon, attracted so many viewers and raised $57 million in a mere 24 hours. The special was shown on many different television channels, ranging from local affiliates to news corporations such as MSNBC and CNN.
Fox News, however, chose not to air the special, remaining with its scheduled programming of the O’Reilly Factor and Hannity. While the reasons for not airing the special were unclear, for many Americans it sent a clear message that some are incapable of not allowing self-interest to detract from humanitarian efforts.
Regardless of Fox News’ actions, the American people have united together, despite race, creed, and economic background to do the right thing and see what they are capable of giving to a country that has always been less fortunate, but is truly struggling now.