In our own backyard

As the drama of Hurricane Katrina continues, I fear that somehow Americans will end up giving more to tsunami victims than those who suffer in our own backyard. I certainly don’t want to say that one person’s suffering is greater than another’s, that we should put value on one person’s life over another, but what does it say about Americans if we fail to help our own countrymen? Isn’t that always how it is? We’ll go through so much and pay so much to adopt an orphaned child from somewhere in Asia or Africa, but we won’t take in and care for the child who lives homeless on our own streets.

But there is one silver lining that I want to take note of: the way the educational community is coming together. Universities, including those I’m directly affiliated with, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon, are coming together to reach out to college students affected by the hurricane and to help make sure that their educations are not severely interrupted. Despite my frequent frustrations, I have to say that a part of me is proud to be part of the higher education community today.

But of course, what about the young children who don’t have homes or food, much less a school to go to today or tomorrow or the next day? How many children will be orphaned and how many dead bodies will continue to be pulled out from the waters? Americans are certainly capable of supporting its citizens– consider the outpouring of support for victims of 9/11. While we may not have terrorists to band against in this circumstance, certainly the suffering and need for help is just as great.