People are selfish by nature, however we have demonstrated times of great sacrifice when such sacrifice is needed. Helping other people is an act most of us perform without even thinking about it. For centuries neighbors have help other neighbors, families have helped other family members and internationally, governments have given other countries’ governments advice, food, medical care, military help or financial support. We live in a country that has always been there for other countries that have needed our help whether they have wanted it or not. Have you ever thought about how selfless Americans are in a time of war or great national tragedy and how selfish we are in times of peace? This might be because in times of peace we are so involved with ourselves that we have no time to think about the needs of others and in time of war we think only about the problem before us.
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The United States has always helped others in need. Our men and women have fought in many wars on foreign soil to ensure other’s freedom. We have risked the lives of our sons and daughters for another’s benefit. We have fed underprivileged countries of the world, often forgetting that we have hungry people right here in our own backyards. We offer medical care to countries that can’t care for their own, though here we have many people who can’t obtain medical treatment due to the high costs of medical insurance. Our government also gives other governments funds to help run their countries, doing all this and not asking for anything in return.
One good example of this is the “Iraqi Freedom” conflict our country is involved in today. We are there under the premise of freeing the Iraqi people from the genocide they have suffered under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. We are also ensuring our freedom and the freedom of the world by taking Hussein out of power and crushing his rein of terror. But we cannot obtain this freedom single-handedly. Britain is fighting right along side of us; our two countries have always helped one another in times of need. During that last century, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have died in many wars freeing other countries from invaders. I just wish everyone were as selfless as Britain and we are in times of need. It would be hard to imagine what some of these other countries would have done if we wouldn’t have stepped up to the plate and taken a swing for them.
Another example of people helping people would have to be Tuesday September 11, 2001 and the days following. Before that date most people living in New York City would not want to get involved with anything or anyone that might distract them from their own lives, thus making New York City seem like a very unfriendly city. When I lived there, for a brief period seventeen years ago, I was surprised to see so many people looking down, not smiling at others and in general just rushing about their business. I had the impression that most New Yorkers would have stepped over someone lying on the sidewalk rather than to stop and help them. On that fateful day we saw a city of supposedly uncaring people change before our very eyes. We saw complete strangers stopping to help others get up and run for cover. In the days following, we continued to see New Yorkers helping each other. We also witnessed our nation as a whole come closer together. Blood banks were overcome with people wanting to donate blood; firefighters and policemen from across the nation donated their time, energy and equipment searching for survivors. Just about everyone in America wanted to help the people of New York and nobody expected anything in return. I imagine we saw such overwhelming support and care due to the fact that the terrorists had not just attacked New York, but our entire country. Also the fact that most of us had never experienced such devastation before. This is one of the few times I have ever witnessed our nation coming together as one.
John F Kennedy once said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to ensure the survival and success of liberty.” This quote goes along quite well with one by Martin Luther King Jr. “The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This is probably why we seem to be more apt to help others in times of great tragedy then we are just to help our neighbors or others when times seem to be going well. Our reluctance is human nature but that doesn’t make it right. I just hope in time when things are going well and we are not facing national tragedy, we remember how good it felt to help others and that we do not slip back into our “old ways”.
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