Writing a Check Isn’t Enough

An aid worker at HEAL Africa summarized my thoughts when she said, “It’s too easy to give money and feel like you’ve helped. Doing something shouldn’t be about relieving your guilty conscience.”

                                           Leana Wen

The quote above is from Leana Wen and Will Okun’s blog, Two For The Road,  posted on June 27from the Congo with Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times.

This most recent post makes a broad comment that is applicable to many situations:

"It’s not because of politicians that the U.S. is not doing enough to help Africa or to stop the war in the Congo. It’s because we have not, as a country, expressed interest in global issues. Let’s show our legislators that we care about international health, ongoing wars, and global poverty. Let’s place public health and international development as top priorities in our foreign policy agenda."

In my view, in addition to being historically dismissive of international issues, America missed a major opportunity to forge a national will to change after 9/11.  The fact is that the crucible for our generation to develop the will to show true leadership has yet to pass.  America has not yet made a  commitment to sacrifice the short-term self-interest of the individual for the greater good of our society.

I remain convinced that Americans have this collective will, and I am inspired by the example of young people such as Leana Wen and Will Okun.  Bravo to Nick Kristof for continuing to blaze the trail through his continuing journalistic commitment to social change and for highlighting these extraordinary people in his column.   

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