Time to Help the Neighbors
David Berreby is the author of "Us and Them: The Science of Identity." He has written about human behavior and other science topics for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Smithsonian, The New Republic, Nature, Discover, Vogue and many other publications. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Paris, a Science Writing Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory, a resident at Yaddo, and in 2006 was awarded the Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship for the first edition of "Us and Them." David can be found on Twitter at @davidberreby and reached by email at david [at] davidberreby [dot] com.
Ron Bluntschli, an American who works with Haitian farmers through the organization Beyond Borders, told me this story years ago:
"When I lived in the country there was a family near us that was very, very poor. They might not start their fire for three days, which meant they didn’t eat for three days. We could hear their children crying about having nothing to eat. So once the father walked off to the nearest town to sell something they had, I don’t remember what. And he brought back a can of beans about yeah big.’’ Bluntschli's big hands hugged a space about the size of a one-pound can of coffee. "And it was 7 hours of walking in the heat, back and forth. And this guy didn’t eat too well."
"So when he got back you could see he was really wiped out. But the first thing he did was take a gode, which is one seventh of this can of beans, and give them to one of my co-workers.''
"It’s pretty hard to watch somebody that poor give you something you don’t need. But it would be a great insult not to take it. And I realized that that’s how these people live. You always give of whatever you have, because some day when you’ve got nothing someone else will give to you. I’d never understood that phrase `blessed are the poor' before that.''
Thinking is important, but there are times when the important thing is doing. Here's how you can help people in Haiti right now. Donate here via Beyond Borders' website. Or try the Yéle Foundation, Doctors Without Borders or the International Red Cross.
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