Mark L. Hopkins: When the chips are down, you can count on Americans
In Proverbs of the Old Testament it says, “Pride goeth before destruction.” Still, no matter where I go in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, I continue to carry a goodly amount of pride in America. And I don’t feel any guilt about having that feeling.
The newspapers are full of the refugee crisis in Europe. More than 3 million people fleeing the war-torn cities of Syria are caught in a maze of confusion as they search for safety and security wherever they can find it. In the midst of this crisis, who is helping? Who is on the scene with the necessities of life? Whether it is a refugee crisis in Europe, an earthquake in Haiti, or a volcano in Peru, it is the people of the United States of America who arrive on site, “the firstest with the mostest,” as my father used to say. In almost every crisis, most aid workers, medical doctors, fire and rescue personnel on the ground working with the people are from the U.S.
We have our flaws as a country, for sure. Even now we have a homeless population
of several million people, and a full quarter of our children are not covered by health
insurance. One would think that a country founded on the nobility of sacrifice and the blessings of the almighty could do better. But just when we begin to get frustrated with ourselves about our own shortcomings, here comes another international tragedy and there goes an invasion of Americans who suddenly appear with picks and shovels, white coats and stethoscopes, hot food and encouragement. This didn’t start just last month, though we tend to forget each time until the next.
When a crisis hits our people begin to move toward the trouble. Doctors Without Borders, an American idea of the late 1960s, has been traveling the world for more than 40 years taking care of the sick. In times of crisis our Navy sends aircraft carriers that carry on-board hospitals and food to desperate people wherever the need is greatest. The Carter Center in Atlanta has been providing medical expertise in a number of third world countries since the early 1980s. Among their great successes is the near eradication of Guinea worm disease, which formerly affected more than 3 million people a year and now is down to fewer than 200. Other major projects they are working on include the eradication of mumps and measles.
Let’s review. Who created for the world the United Nations that still makes its home
in New York City? Under its umbrella are The UNICEF and The World Bank who share benevolent services and money with countries around the globe? Who provided the money and the expertise to rebuild all of Europe and Asia following the great wars? Who leads the world in providing humanitarian aid after earthquakes and hurricanes? Who created benevolences like hospice, Red Cross, United Way and community crisis centers all funded by local donations? Whose people give such great amounts in charitable donations to the worthwhile causes of the less fortunate? Who indeed? The people of the United States of America, that’s who. The country built on the great ideal. The country that continues to fall short of its promise but is head and shoulders above every other country that ever existed in taking care of the needs of hurting people around the globe. When the chips are down, you can count on Americans.
Watch the news reports. Wherever there is a crisis, there we go again, doing all we can to help against unbelievable odds. Sense the desire to help and the frustration of the failures, but feel the pride in country and a people who, once again, reach into their pockets and into their hearts to help those in greatest need. Can you feel it?
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.