Today’s America – both before and after COVID-19 – bears little resemblance to the country in which I grew up, served in its defense, and benefited from its freedoms and resourcefulness. Most of the changes over the last 56 years are commendable and honorable in the greatest traditions of America’s democracy. Others, unfortunately, are simply not.
Our system of healthcare which excludes millions of Americans from basic services is unfortunate. As is growing income inequality, our abandonment of America’s longstanding leadership position in a globally integrated society and most importantly, an Administration that tramples upon the rule of law on a daily basis and is turning back the clock on the environmental regulations that have cleansed our water and air of pollutants over the past 50 years. Now, we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic which has plunged the civilized world into economic recession and will alter some aspects of our way of life forever.
All of the “unfortunate” situations that I mentioned can be fixed, improved, or changed in a way that can be beneficial not only to Americans, but to all citizens around the world. Americans are innovative and resilient; governments change, and all these problems are subject to change or reversal.
I truly believed that until last week. Now I am genuinely concerned about America’s future. Something happened recently that I could not have ever imagined would happen in the United States. Since the turn of the 20th Century, America, with our democratic example, economic prowess, military muscle and technological innovation, has held the world together, tended to its ailments, solved its conflicts and led in its recovery from war, famine and disease – until now.
Medecins Sans Frontiers, otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders, has been on the front lines of every misfortune to have taken place in the world in recent memory – Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Mynamar just to name a few. Neither man-made, nor natural disasters have dissuaded this amazing organization from jumping into action when the tired, sick and hungry have called.
On May 12, 2020, I learned that Doctors Without Borders was back in action again. Not in some drought ridden East African territory or war torn Middle Eastern sand box, but in New Mexico. That’s right, not Mexico, but New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. The one in the Southwestern United States. Just to be clear – Doctors Without Borders, is an organization that runs toward the fire, not away from it. An organization which has seen the most terrible tragedies that the world has created for the last five decades is present, with a team of nine medical specialists, in the United States of America.
This team is deployed to provide aid and comfort to members of the Navajo Nation who are suffering from an explosion of COVID-19 infections and deaths on their reservations in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. American citizens who are so discriminated against and so forgotten by America’s “greatness” that help must be imported from France. It would be reasonable to assume that all nine of these medical specialists have served time in Sudan or Mynamar or similar disaster area. And now they are graciously providing their skills and services in New Mexico, USA. Are you kidding me? Have we really fallen this far down the global food chain that one of the world’s most recognized non-governmental organizations that over the years has lost many of its volunteers to disease and conflict is now serving in New Mexico?
This situation is more than troubling to me. While I appreciate what these professionals are doing to help our fellow citizens, it is a tragedy that they are needed. Perhaps this is what it takes to call attention to the lack of compassion and distribution of equitable rights toward the many minority groups that make up our American citizenry. The Navajo Nation suffered enough when their land was nationalized and their culture practically destroyed by white settlers of the West. Doesn’t America at least owe them access to basic services to include healthcare, homes with running water, and an existence free of discrimination? It is disturbing to know that their call for help could only be answered by a French NGO.
To donate directly to the Navajo Nation COVID-19 fund, visit https://www.nndoh.org/donate.html.