John F. Kennedy once said that, “in the final analysis, our most basic common link is the fact that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
I believe that to bring about a solution to the strife and conflict that plagues our world, we must recognize most basic of commonalities. We are all human.
What differentiates the health outcomes of a child from an impoverished family in sub-Saharan Africa and the child of a doctor or a banker here in the U.S.? The simple answer: Where and when they are born. Birth — an unforgiving lottery — is often judge, jury and executioner. Every day 21,000 children die, from starvation, from disease, from war and from abuse. Yet so many people sit idly by despite the need for help, for health, for life. We cannot change every factor in an environment, but the scope of a conflict or problem should not disarm us. We would move mountains to save our own children. Are we not torn asunder at the spectacle of their pain? Then when regarding the unforgiving lottery that is birth, why is it that so many people can label a conflict or injustice as “isolated?” Poverty, disease, war — these are not environments children choose to be born into, these are not insulated by walls chosen by the downtrodden. They are isolated in that people refuse their commonality, deny their fortune of birth and unwittingly wall the poor, the sick and the conflicted within barricades that forever grow. We are here, they are there: more importantly, we are here, not there.
AmeriCares’ founder Bob Macauley championed “The Starfish Story” – a story of a boy who believed in making a difference, one life at a time. Similarly, the scope of a problem is not a justification for inaction. We often hear that a problem is too big or too obscure for any individual or organization to make a difference. This has proven to be a dangerous and sometimes fatal misconception. One act by one person may only alter the life of one person or it may alter the lives of one hundred; regardless of magnitude, opportunity is birthed from what was perceived to be abandoned.
Where do we fit in? We are the bearers of hope and change to those who had no reason to believe. We are AmeriCares. We are no different than other people. We are human just as they are. So, what makes us so profoundly different? The answer is nothing; we are neither superheroes, rich, nor powerful. However, we embrace the commonalities that bind us and disregard the barriers between us. We do what we do, because we know that any change for the better is progress. Regardless of the capacity by which we can deliver humanitarian aid to help people in need – the fact that we stand up and do what we do, as efficiently and effectively as we possibly can – is what makes the difference.
“In the final analysis, our most basic common link is the fact that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
-John F. Kennedy
Speech at The American University
Washington D.C., June 10, 1963