We have become a society of what I like to call "celebrity causes". Angelina Jolie is in Newsweek this week, talking about her "causes". International adoption, AIDS assitance in Africa, poverty in third world countries. All important and worthy causes and all causes that come and go from our sight line like the proverbial flash in the pan.
Anyone here remember the "One" campaign? When's the last time it got any media play? Anyone believe that poverty in third world countries just suddenly stopped being a problem? Nope? Me either.
The big one now is Bono and his Powe(red)campaign. It's everywhere. And in a month or two, the media will have moved on to the next trendy issue and no one will remember why it is they have four pairs of red sunglasses.
The thing that disturbs me the most about this trend is that none of it focuses on issues here at home. Poverty, hunger and humanitarian aid to war torn countries are all noble and valid things to get behind. The suffering outside of this country is as immense as you can imagine, sometimes to large a thing to fully grasp. It doesn't change the fact that we have children dying right here at home.
There was a story in the news last week about a twelve year old boy that died from a brain infection. He got the infection because he was denied dental treatment for a simple cavity, which turned into an abcess, which eventually spread to his brain. Why didn't he get treatment? His mother was to poor to afford medical insurance and because she was homeless, the state had "a hard time" getting her approved for Medicaid. So this little boy died.
I'm a frequent reader of a blog called C.U.S.S written by a very funny, very intelligent woman named Suzanne. Suzanne lives in New York and is a member of a group called the Haven Coalition. This is a group that ensures that young women who have made the legal choice to have an abortion have a safe and healthy place to stay after the procedure. Groups like this are necessary because while people are screaming and ranting on both sides of the fence, someone forgot that there are real people involved. Real people that are making life altering decisions and need the support of caring compassionate people, even in small ways.
There are children living in shelters all across this country because their parents can't afford the high cost of rent or can't find employment that will allow them to support their families. Sometimes, the only real meal these children get is the one they receive at school.
This is happening here. Right here. This is one of the wealthiest nations on the planet and we have children dying from a lack of decent health care and starving to death in rundown homes.
Each time you donate to the latest "celebrity cause" remember that there are a lot of things that need tending here in our own backyard. Don't forget the people around the world that need our care and compassion, but don't sweep the suffering of our own under the rug.
Get involved. Write a letter. Commit a post on your blog to bringing attention to issues like these. Make a noise.