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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Coming Together Through Tragedy

Misery has a habit of visiting those who least deserve it. Those who have never had an easy day in their lives sometimes seem to never get a break. When a huge earthquake hit Haiti recently, tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of people perished. It was after all of this however, that we once again saw something amazing. People came to the aid of this small country, and millions of dollars of aid and supplies moved in.

US Army personnel, firefighters and cops from many cities in the United States and the US Navy all sent resources. The Red Cross and numerous other aid agencies moved in as well. It is in terrible situations like these when the good qualities of humanity can arise, and in these trying times we can examine the American spirit of helping our neighbors, the spirit  that leads us to be one of the largest contributors of volunteer time and donations around the world.

A similar disaster struck Asia in 2004, when a major earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that killed over 200,000 people. All in all, the world donated over seven billion dollars in aid. This disaster, and the one in Haiti actually showed us what could happen if we put aside our differences and come together for a common purpose. The collaboration between countries after these kinds of disasters does more for international relations than long years of diplomatic talks. That is because when the time comes for us to act together, we realize that we are not all so different and that we all share common qualities as human beings.

Although these major disasters garner lots of attention, we must also stop to appreciate all of the people who take time out of their lives to help others, even when there isn’t a terrible tragedy on the news. These volunteers do not ask much in return, except the satisfaction they get when helping others. We can all take a lesson from this humility

If we stop to think for a moment about all of the luxuries that we enjoy, especially as people who can afford to go to college, we can begin to see how much better some have it than others. It is perhaps this gap in living standards between peoples of the world that drive so many to volunteer. As college students, we can make a tremendous difference in the local community, in our university and wherever else we may decide to spend our time.

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