Worlds that exist beyond the U.S. need support too

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

The two-back-to-back category four hurricanes that made landfall in the United States has kept our hearts and thoughts occupied. Now, reports say southern California could get hit with an 8.2 earthquake. But as the U.S. battles our beasts of nature, the rest of the world struggles too.

In Mexico, an 8.2 earthquake tore down buildings and killed about 96 people. One million people are left without food, water and shelter. But while the citizens of Mexico are desperate, our administration remains silent about the destruction.

In the Caribbean Islands, 90 percent of the buildings were leveled by Hurricane Irma’s wrath days before reaching U.S. mainland. So far, over two dozen people have been killed and the hunt for food on the islands has begun.

We need to continue be part of a caring, global community that empathizes with people across the world during natural disasters and social unrest. The U.S. has invested foreign aid in countries such as the Ukraine and Israel for years through economic and military assistance. We now need to invest our thoughts in the people who do not have a direct impact on us.

When you board a plane, the stewardess tells you that, in case of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help a child or an incapacitated adult. If the plane falling out of the sky was a metaphor for any major natural disaster, war or epidemic across the world, we have been falling out of the sky for a very long time.

We have adapted to the sensation of air being sucked from our lungs and blood rushing to our heads. Everyone on that plane represents a country and a community. Some have adapted well to falling out of the sky, while others still haven’t figured out how to put an oxygen mask on. At some point as we plummet, we must reach over and help the other falling passengers put on their oxygen masks.

In 2015, the U.S. spent $43 billion in foreign aid, both economic and military. We spent the most money on “conflict, peace and security” and “emergency response.” We do care about what happens in other countries—our pocketbooks are proof of that. But we need to continue helping.

The rhetoric and actions of our current administration and government suggests that we will be moving away from this idea as a global community. For example, in June 2017, President Trump pulled the U.S. out for the Paris Climate agreement.

We can’t build a wall and act like the rest of the world is not our problem because that won’t work. The history of neutrality during crises is not effective, which is shown from the U.S. entering World War 1 to continued U.S. military presence in the Middle East.

Neutrality is privileged thinking. We should care about why the United Nations is accusing Burundi leaders of crimes against humanity or about the rights of Australians regarding marriage and gender.

It is our responsibility as a global community to seek out the hidden worlds among us. These hidden worlds are the issues and struggles we see every day in homeless woman on the street, in the addict at the clinic and on the evening news of the latest distant war.