There was a devastating earthquake, 7.5 on the Richter scale we are told. Thousands of lives were lost; disease and starvation followed; for lack of medical care or effective infrastructure recovery will take a long time and cost a great deal.
This time it was in the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, reportedly among the poorest nations in that part of the world.
America, Americans, responded.
Responding, it's what we do. We send supplies and people and reporters free to tell us who needs aid and how much. We do not go because we're the richest nation; going is what we must do because that is who we are. For all the popular and politically correct rejection of "religion" as the basis of law, America is still based on a Judeo-Christian ethnic. Like the Good Samaritan, wherever and whenever people hurt we will try to help. We can do no other.
And, in the passage of time and the rise of people who do not know or remember, with the rise of those with agendas of their own, the very people to whose aid was rushed will come to hate America. Help, at first greatly appreciated, comes to be thought of as deserved and lacking. And, no one will be quite sure why.
In 1973, a Canadian named Gordon Sinclair gave a radio address that has popped up from time to time as each generation of Americans discover it for the first time. Although dated by events inconceivable in 1973, it is still worth repeating.
Sinclair concluded with this statement:
"I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
"Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those."
Sinclair passed away in 1984. What do you suppose he'd say about the current earthquake response?
Maybe, just possibly, America comes to be hated for helping just because we are a Christian nation, doing what Christ would do, and those with ill motivation cannot comprehend unadulterated acts. As written by the apostle John many centuries back, "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it" (John 1.5, NIV).
Back in my college days when studying the life of Christ we came to Matthew 26, where Jesus is asked for the signs of the end. Our professor pointed out that what Jesus gives as end-time indicators are common things, which have happened to mankind over centuries. We will always have famines and earthquakes, wars and disasters. Professor Bourne thought the key was not so much whether the world was coming to an end, but whether in the end Christ would find us responding to "ordinary traumas" as He would have us do.
America, Americans, responded.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.