Reporter's Note: President Obama has been challenged to a basketball match by that new Senator Elect from Massachusetts. I have the feeling he may take him up on it, but only for double or nothing on the seat. Ha! My game? Writing a letter to the president’s home court every day.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/americas/01/22/haiti.aftershocks/smlvid.haiti.line.afp.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
The continuing problems in Haiti must be heavy on your mind as you, I presume, are working on your State of the Union speech over this weekend. I’ve often thought that one of the unique burdens of being President of the United States is that you are automatically a major figure on the world stage too. And what is best for the world, while often admirable, necessary, humanitarian, and decent, is unfortunately not always what is best for the home front.
Plenty of presidents before you have grappled with this issue. A horrid thing happens on the other side of the globe, and naturally that leader wants to help, but soon enough the pull of domestic concerns start shifting the tide. I have already heard grumblings about that on-line, on the radio, and elsewhere, as some people have either started growing weary with the problems of Haiti, or they want to dismiss them as merely another tragedy for a country with a long, troubled history.
I don’t feel that way. I look at the suffering of people who have suffered so much already, and I wonder why it is so very hard for wealthy nations like ours to be more helpful. But at the same time, I do not disparage our fellow citizens who may not feel the same. When I was a child I remember saying to my mother, “It bothers me that children in Africa are going hungry, but it does not make me like cooked carrots.” The person whose toe has just been broken is not immune to pain simply because another person was run down by a car.
So I understand why plenty of Americans who are worried about losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes may be less interested in what we can do for Haiti, than what we need to do at home. I think it is important not to dismiss them (as some people are prone to do) as uncaring or callous; they just have other concerns. When I hear people ripping away at their fellow citizens as greedy, or cruel, just because they do not jump onboard the same charitable cause, I often think, “Yes, but what if that American is also struggling to make his or her own life work, a lot harder than you are? What if his family’s bills are crushing his bank account, and stealing the hopes he spent a lifetime building up?”
What I hope you can do as you continue to address the concerns to the south, is thread the needle. The needs of our own people…for a vibrant economy, a safe homeland, and hope for better days, do not have to take a backseat to the urgent needs in Haiti. In truth, I think this is a case where they can exist alongside each other. We are a wealthy nation, even in these trying times. And I suspect we can find enough for our own house…and our neighbor’s too.
Call if you can. Go Saints.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with