God* Bless America

America has been on the receiving end of some harsh criticism recently, and a lot of it has been warranted. But who are we to criticise? What do we really know about America?

For a lot of us, the occasional trip to a big city or a holiday resort, for others you only know what you see or read, filtered through news networks or blogs. What do we REALLY know about America?

How many people live in poverty? What’s the rate of child deaths? How many people die of starvation? Will Brad and Jen get back together?

Then there are the calls for charity, for donations to help the sick and starving in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The images still fresh in the mind, the looting, the violence, the death, are interrupted by another appeal, this time for the starving people in Niger. Drought and locusts killed off last years crops, and the people have no food. They are not in a rich country, they do not have neighbours who can take them in, they have not looted and violated. Who deserves?

The culture in America has created a “winner takes all” society, and the richest country in the world is asking for help. Billions of dollars are required to rebuild houses and lives, and Americans are pitching in, doing their bit, helping their neighbours. But why do they need my help? My charity? Where will my money make a difference? Africa or America?

There is no right or wrong answer of course. Yet the internal conflict remains and I struggle to balance my own thoughts on the matter. America has been treated harshly, yes. Their government has failed to act appropriately, yes. They have the resources they need to solve this themselves, yes. Have they helped out other countries when similar has happened? Yes. The good and bad sides of America are at war, and the country seems to be stretching itself, slowly awaking from its slumber with the realisation that only whilst it is sleeping is it truely the land of dreams.

* Insert deity of choice