"If there will be a poor man among you... you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand toward your poor brother; you shall open your hand to him and shall give him enough for his needs."
I think I'm going to make that my status update on Facebook in light of the disturbingly frequent status updates recently that go something like this: "America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment - yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won't have the guts to copy and repost this!!" OR "Where were all the telethons during Katrina?!" Then some shmo will leave a comment to the effect of, "I feel bad for Haiti, but we need to take care of our own first."
Hello? Really? First of all, see "September 2005" for the answer to "where were all the telethons for Katrina," asswipe. They happened; you probably forgot because you didn't give to that effort either. But on a more important point, almost 200,000 humans dead, with scores injured, maimed, homeless and destitute in a truly shocking and devastating disaster--you're tallying whether they're worth help because they're not American? Those are the kind of balls one can only hope God finds a way to cut out from under you.
Furthermore, the people who post these statements also tend to be the very same people who post anti-health care bill updates, or anti-public assistance updates or all manner of "let them eat cake" pontifications. But now that people are sending money to Haiti, all of a sudden they're concerned about America's poor and hungry children being ignored or America's veterans being homeless? You'll pardon me as I stifle my laughter, because that concern is simply not credible.
Here's my take: you help people where they're hurting. Right now Haiti is where they need the most help. Doesn't mean Americans aren't important (good god, no! Americans not important?!), doesn't mean that all the daily challenges facing our nation's citizenry no longer exist. It just means that right now our neighbor's house is on fire and, even though we may not have enough to make the rent on our own house at the moment, we still need to call 911 and go help. Even if we've never met them. Even if they are different from us. Even if we kind of don't feel like it's that big a deal since, after all, our house is still intact. But who sees a woman come out after being buried in a building for 5 days--a woman whose daughter died next to her in that rubble just before rescue--and sees not one iota of herself in that fellow human's suffering? Who doesn't think that were the situations reversed, she'd be begging the world for help?
Easing suffering is not a zero sum game.