Our 4th annual Lansing for Haiti 5K run/walk is coming up on January 11th, 2014 (Shameless Plug: Click for info & to sign up! Doggy Division, Yeti Mascot, & No Race Fee this year–you can’t beat that!) We had 301 runners last year and hope to top that this year. 100% of our proceeds go to World Relief‘s work in Haiti to sustainably help the most vulnerable out of extreme poverty.
And some people in Michigan have a major problem with that.
Which drives me nuts.
On our Facebook ad for the 5K, a gentleman (whose name and profile pic I will leave not reveal, and I deleted his post from FB) decided he needed to write: How about Lansing for Michigan first then with what energy everyone has left you can run to Haiti?
These sorts of comments get under my skin like there is no tomorrow. This is our 4th year doing the race and with the exception of the first year, when the Haiti earthquake was still fresh on everyone’s minds, I have received these sorts of comments and emails from individuals every single year. I know they are a loud minority, but they still bother the heck out of me. I blogged about this during last year’s race prep, We have problems in the USA, so you should not help other countries…, highlighting two similar encounters I observed:
I was at the YMCA last week and had just given a 5K flier to the front desk worker, who I know is a runner. The front desk worker cheerfully invited the next member who came up to the desk to participate in the 5K. The member asked her to repeat what it was for. When she said “it’s a fundraiser for Haiti”, the member said as rudely as you can imagine, “If it’s not for the U.S., I’m not doing it” and essentially slammed the door on her way into the gym.
A friend who ran in our Lansing for Haiti 5K last year proudly posted a photo on Facebook recently of he and his wife wearing our 2012 race shirts after they just finished a race in Ohio. His caption was “Representing Lansing for Haiti 320 miles away!” The first comment underneath was someone who wrote “When are you going to represent Lansing for Lansing?”
This vibe all started during our 2nd annual race (2012) when I received an email from a woman ripping me apart for sending money to Haiti, when Detroit was in disarray. She said I should be doing a 5K for Detroit, not for Haiti, and essentially I’m a terrible person for doing so.
I don’t respond to these people. I can’t imagine that being good for anyone. But here are some things I would like to say:
- Let me know what you are doing for Michigan, besides writing snarky comments to people who are actually trying to make a difference in the world. Tell me what 5K you are organizing, so I can sign up for it.
- Let me know if you’d like me to email everyone who signed up for my race and have them give their $15 or $20 to the guy on the corner holding the cardboard sign in Lansing rather than helping World Relief save lives.
- Let me know why I can’t help save people’s lives in Haiti and love Michigan? Maybe just maybe I cut back on my personal expenses so I have the financial freedom to do both? How would you like a few snarky FB comments sent your way about the way you spend your money on new crap for yourself, when you could be using it to help others in Michigan!!!???
- Let me tell you about the two inner-city park ministries in Lansing I coordinate all summer long with our church
- Let me tell you about how many inner-city youth in Lansing I have mentored
- Let me tell you about all the people I’ve helped find employment in Lansing
- Let me tell you about the amount of time I’ve spent with the homeless in Lansing
- Let me tell you how Lansing poverty and Detroit poverty are entirely different than Haiti poverty. How Haiti has been under the oppression of post-colonization and corrupt governments for the past century, which has crippled the majority of their population from having the opportunity for healthy and productive lives.
How “the most vulnerable” in Haiti means children who have to decide if they will allow themselves to be raped or to starve to death.
- How school isn’t an option for most Haitian children. How the idea of a homeless shelter that provides 3 hot meals a day, free housing, and free clothing, like you can find multiple options of in both Lansing and Detroit, would sound like the absolute luxury life for the poor in Haiti, who wonder if they and their children will eat today or not.
- Let me tell you how Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake, so imagine the type of need there is now?
- Let me tell you how the money we are raising is going to give microfinance loans to small-plot farmers so they can start agricultural businesses to sustainably support their families. Meanwhile, they are being supported by the infrastructure of the Haitian local church, providing the hope, connection, and relationship needed to thrive.
- Let me tell you about how the people of Haiti are people. Beautiful, worthy of love and dignity, and masterfully created in the image of God.
I know I shouldn’t let these people’s comments get to me, but I have to admit, I’m startled every time I get one. Why do people think like this? Why are people so ego-centric as to not consider people in other countries as humans who are worthy of love and dignity? Yes, we differ in language and flag and skin color, but we are brothers and sisters created by God, in his image.
Nobody chooses the country they are born in.
Nobody chooses for their children to starve to death.
But people can choose to help when the opportunity is in front of them.
No, we can’t help everyone. But we can help some! When someone has a passion, calling, and opportunity to help a people group in need, let’s encourage them! Let’s join them as we are able! And this should be so obvious, but let’s not throw bricks at them for no reason, just because we have nothing else to do. I mean seriously: WHO GOES PERUSING THE INTERNET FOR CHARITY CAUSES TO BASH ON THAT DON’T GIVE MONEY DIRECTLY TO THEIR CITY!!?? I can see it now, click Google.com…type in “charities who aren’t giving money to Lansing…bash! bash! bash! bash!”
Ok, I think I’ve got it out of my system now. Thanks for letting me vent! 🙂
And hopefully I’ll see you on January 11th for the 5K!
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
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