Are You Morally Obligated to Donate to Haiti?

04/25/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Even though the media's attention has shifted from the devastation of Haiti to other events, the people of Haiti still need help -- and they will for many years. No country can suffer the destruction of their infrastructure and be back to "business as usual" in mere months. Unfortunately, the concept of "out of sight, out of mind" is too true. And when the media's focus shifts, so does the public's.

Because the pressure to donate to Haiti has subsided, does that mean all donations and acts of help should cease? Or, as Americans, are we morally obligated to continue donating to Haiti?
While no one has a moral obligation to donate anything to anyone, the fact is that we are all connected, regardless of where we live. If we're not there for each other and don't have each other's back, then we're worse off as a whole. So even though we're not morally obligated to donate to Haiti, we all need to do what we can to help others in their time of need. After all, if the tables were turned and your city suffered complete destruction, you'd want help too.

Granted, in today's economy it's difficult for people to even think about donating to another cause, especially something that's not close to home. But if everyone thought that way, where would we be? How much worse would the world be? How much more suffering would needlessly take place?

Go From "Me" to "We"
Have you ever noticed that when you're so focused on yourself you don't solve your problems? However, if you offer your time, assistance, or focus to others your problems seem to resolve easier. That is, when you're constantly thinking "me, me, me" you don't get as much done or get the results you want. But you do get results when you take the focus away from you and help someone else. Somehow, whatever you're working on comes to completion or you get clarity. That's why continuing to focus on Haiti is so important.

"But wait a minute," some people may say. "We have people right here in our own country who need help. Why should I help the Haitians when my neighbors need help?" If you've caught yourself thinking this, remember that love has no borders. We're all one. When the United States experienced the horrific attack of 9/11, other countries came to our aid. Just because there's a border doesn't mean you don't help people or that they're not important. Everyone is important, whether they live within our border or not.

So yes, we should help everyone -- our neighbors included. We're better off when we all co-exist. And if each country only helped their own citizens, there would be a lot of resentment in the world -- much more than there is today. And even though many Americans are struggling in today's economy, we are still the richest country and have a lot to be grateful for.

Embrace the Differences
Still, some people may choose not to donate to Haiti because they harbor some resentment or prejudice toward the Haitians. They may even believe the comment made by Pat Robertson that "a religious failing on the part of the Haitians didn't just cause this earthquake but also the numerous other disasters that have befallen the nation over the years."

First, let's set the record straight: 96% of the people of Haiti are Christian (with 80% Catholic and 16% Protestant). Per capita, that's more than the United States, which comes it at less than 77% Christian. So saying you can't help Haiti because they are not Christian is foolish nonsense.

Additionally, is turning your back on someone in need really a Christian principle? All religions profess to be about love and helping others, so it's time to wake up. Part of the problem with today's world stems from the mentality that we should only help our own kind -- those of our own race, religion, nationality, etc. If we could get rid of this thinking once and for all, much conflict would end and the world would be a better place.

Finally, if an alien came down to our planet and asked, "Who are you?" we'd all say, "We're human beings on planet Earth." When it comes down to it, we're all the same. So in terms of helping others, a person's skin color, religious beliefs, or citizenship shouldn't matter. If you believe it does, then you need to get out more, open your heart, and look inside yourself to uncover what aspect of yourself you dislike so much that you're projecting it on other people.

A Small Act with Big Rewards
Ultimately, no one is asking you to give your entire life savings to others. If everyone would donate just a few dollars a month to the relief efforts, it would add up quickly and do a lot of good. And really, donating a few dollars here and there is so easy compared to being on the front lines, removing rubble, rebuilding infrastructure, and providing medical care. Donating money is such a small act, yet it can do so much for those in need.

So think about one month, could you go just one day without a fancy coffee drink? Or could you brown bag your lunch just once? Or could you not rent or download just one movie? If you forgo one small luxury once a month and donate that money instead, you could make a world of difference.

Remember, the more you focus just on yourself, the more difficult life seems to be. Yet the more you reach out and help others, the happier people seem. So are you morally obligated to donate to Haiti? No. But there is a human obligation to help those in need.

Embrace your humanity; do your part today.