We met in a suburban Chinese restaurant at 7 pm November 8, 2012. We were experiencing questionable weather from the system that landed snow in New Jersey and points north. Nevertheless, a group of women arrived. They were enthusiastic about the outcome of the election results of two days ago and expressed that they were eager to go through the entire booklet on Helping Out: Humanitarian Policy for Global Security.
The Chinese restaurant where we met was in Maryland near Washington DC and was filled with families having dinner. We were seated at a round table with a center lazy susan that was ideal for sharing entrees and having a communal experience.
After a time to review the report, the first comment was “We spend time helping everyone and we cannot afford to help ourselves. Helping is not equal. Self-interests are the driving influences.” Well, that just about said it all because it opened up feelings and observations that colored the perspectives that are offered in the report. Another participant commented that we have suffered Katrina and now the northeast disasters and have not been rescued by any foreign entity. Someone else asked if we have looked at the possibility that other countries are binding together against us and preparing themselves without us in mind. They mentioned that Japan had already all manner of plans in place for their own protection, but succumb to a level of disaster that they did not plan for. But in all of their planning, there was no plan for America. Now we are receiving all of their furniture and homes to our west coast.
There was strong agreement that our interventions in disasters is less humanitarian driven and more politically driven. Help comes to those who can offer something of value to America. Consider Katrina where poor people with nothing to offer were neglected. Globally, the trend is the same. Myanmar in Asia was of great interest to America when a tsunami hit them, although American help was refused.
A universal suggestion emerged among the participants that really made sense. The idea is to select and train an international team of first responders in America that are composed of people with different language skills who would study phased rescue and supply plans and be available to implement them in the case of lack of electricity, lack of gasoline, lack of food, lack of water. These responders would travel all over the world assisting citizens in how to prepare for disasters. They would lead a campaign to get every American household prepared for disaster by creating safe housed, bunkers, emergency kits and family meeting places. As we are seeing in our newest disasters in America, there is seldom time to save your life much less to begin planning once a disaster occurs. In fact, every country should be required by the United Nations to prepare its people and to submit those plans with points of contact to each other so that humanitarianism can become universal.