Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The Change Master

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“I have a dream” for how America can help Haiti

Posted by rosabethkanter on January 14, 2010

Our hearts and our aid must go out to the people of Haiti. These are our neighbors. Thank you, President Obama, for mobilizing swift action to save lives.

As the magnitude of the tragedy unfolds, I have a dream. I have a dream about what a strong American response to this disaster could mean.

Perhaps we can take a pause from partisan politics to think about this tragedy in the midst of an impoverished nation. We can help now and also help with the rebuilding, to show that our wealth and might can contribute to our region over the long haul – and while we’re at it, perhaps see what work remains to be done on our own continent in New Orleans where Katrina damage remains. Perhaps we could vow to come the aid of US citizens who still suffer after the first relief efforts end.

Perhaps the bailed-out bonus baby bankers could lend their private planes and empty their pockets to help – or sponsor AmeriCorps teams that could be deployed to the island. Perhaps Congress could agree on passing a health care bill of a different sort, to add support for non-profit groups such as Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health or Doctors without Borders to work in Haiti. Or perhaps politicians could rethink immigration restrictions, or provide support for communities that open their doors to survivors.

This is only a dream. But with Martin Luther King Day coming up on Monday, why not have a dream of calling on our better selves?

And, pragmatically, we could shore up our leadership in the Southern Hemisphere where the politics are running against us, while polishing our humanitarian image elsewhere.

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