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The Reach of Helping HandsPosted Monday, April 19, 2010, at 8:57 AM
Last week, an American family who adopted a boy from a Russian orphanage sent the 7-year-old child back, unaccompanied, to his native land because he was supposedly mentally unstable and violent. This event, which is completely appalling, has again got me thinking about the dilemma of international versus national good deeds.
I know a young woman who does very cool relief work in Africa, and I have encountered several former Peace Corps members as well. I have a certain amount of respect for people who give up the comforts of home to live and work in the developing world, a place I have only traveled to myself. I think there are many wonderful international projects that help to make life better for so many; but, aren't domestic programs like Teach for America and AmeriCorps just as, if not more, important? How can we help others in the future if we don't help ourselves today?
It's kind of the same thing with adoptions. When I returned from China in the fall of 2008, I sort of toyed with the idea that someday I might go back and adopt a baby girl -- one of my college friends was, in fact, adopted at birth from India. I know of several other instances where American couples have "rescued" babies from other countries, which is certainly very noble. But, aren't there children here at home who also need foster or adoptive homes? They are already citizens, fellow Americans who deserve to be loved and cared for, too.
After the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti in January, I jumped on the charity bandwagon and gave $25 to the Red Cross. Now, the effectiveness of donating to a large versus small charity is something that can be debated at great length, but the point is, I had a little extra money and gave it to hopefully help others in a time of crisis. But, in these tough economic times, who's to say that an unemployed Marshallite who can't afford groceries wouldn't have equally benefitted if I had given my $25 to the Community Food Pantry? It's not the same degree of suffering I suppose, but it would truly be "loving my neighbor."
I'm certainly not disparaging anyone who gives to international organizations or causes, nor am I saying that they are unimportant or misguided. But I do think we need to consider the gravity of cultural differences involved. Adopting a child from abroad is a much different international transaction than buying a toaster made in China or taking a foreign vacation. And in our desire to help those less fortunate than ourselves, perhaps we should remember that they might be closer than we think.
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Little Town Blues Goes to China
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Something about music. Something about small towns. Something about Hong Kong. Or maybe something else entirely.
Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.