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Good can come out of the tsunami

I never thought I’d be grateful for a natural disaster such as the tsunami, with over 200,000 dead and thousands missing, but, in a way, I am.

That sounds incredibly heartless doesn’t it? Families are separated and broken, properties are damaged beyond recognition and the long-term effects on the local and global economy have yet to be shown.

How could I be grateful for such a terrible tragedy? For this entirely selfish reason: it serves as a reminder for me that there are still compassionate people in America, with good intentions and good hearts.

My family and I got involved in a local relief effort, where our church collected materials for “care kits” of toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand towels, hair combs, shampoo, band aids and much more such supplies.

We purchased the materials for seven “care kits,” one for each member of my family, including my two little nephews, who helped us shop.

I remember my mother pulling my two nephews aside, an eight and five year old, trying to explain to them what had happened and how people over there need our help.

How could she explain it? How could she get it through to them that what was being shown on the news was more than a disaster movie, but real life?

I didn’t know how to respond when my five-year-old nephew stated knowingly as we raided The Family Dollar of their toiletry items, “A lot of people died over there. They need hair combs! Can I give them my Transformer?”

I’m not sure of the amount that the United States has earmarked to help the tsunami victims now, but we had pledged 35 million dollars last December, not including military aid and private donations. Since then, our government has adopted a plan in order to provide aid more long-term.

In the election this year, Americans showed major concern for our economy. Here in the United States we have some major problems, including poverty, gang violence, homeless people, drug addiction. Many Americans don’t have health insurance, and social security is running out.

Despite all of this, we care about people dying across the world. Not many other countries are looking out for others as much, if not more, than they look out for themselves.

That said, America has critics all over the world who love to break apart and analyze her foreign policy as heartless and misguided. While they admit that Americans seem to want to help people, they ask whether this responsibility stems from religion, compassion or a more politically correct version of the “white man’s burden.”

Others say that the American government was actually ‘stingy,’ considering that billions of dollars will be needed over the next 10 to 20 years, but I’m more concerned with the reactions that I witnessed personally as an American.

People cared. Doctors and nurses took sick leave in order to help out, middle class Americans pledged to sponsor children and send “care kits,” while our five-year-olds offer to part with their favorite toys.

I’m holding on to America’s compassion for the victims of the tsunami for dear life. It reminds me that we are a country of compassionate people.

With all of the situations our country is in right now, I need a reminder of the goodness and compassion in our country, and our government.

Partisan politics have never more polarizing and bitter. Protestors have never been more vocal and mean-hearted. Our foreign policy, right or wrong, has never been bloodier.

I’m only a young woman with a lot of life to live ahead of me, so it’s mighty scary if one contemplates what our world is going to come to in the years to come.

Yet, I’m grateful that I live in a country that values the oppressed, and is generous enough to demand relief work of our government.

I wish the tsunami had not happened, as we all do, but am exceedingly grateful that Americans stepped up to the plate and did what was clearly the right thing to do.

Send comments to Jessica at [email protected].

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