Today I came across an interesting opinion piece from the website, Daily Good: News that Inspires.
It’s written by Sriram Shamasunder, an associate professor of medicine at UCSF and the director of UCSF HEAL—a health training program in Navajo Nation and rural India. And Priti Krishtel—a founder and an executive director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge.
But before I get into their piece, a few Bible verses—from Deuteronomy 15:
When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see them….
Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart…. Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble….
And now to their piece entitled, “What Native Americans Can Teach Rich Nations About Generosity In A Pandemic”
They write, “Last year, the Irish people raised nearly $2 million dollars for the Navajo and Hopi Nations so they could protect themselves from the pandemic. At the time, the infection rate in the Navajo community – 2,304 cases per 100,000 — was the highest in the country and nearly 40% higher than even the epicenter of New York City.
It was a show of thanks to Native Americans for a $170 gift sent by the Choctaw to the Irish people at the height of the potato famine in 1847….
These last few weeks, as COVID set India aflame in a profound surge, Navajo Nation continued the cycle of generosity forward by gathering PPE to send to India via the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C.
This may seem like a feel-good story about pandemic generosity. And it is.
But there is another perspective. This chain of donations is akin to a crowdfunding campaign for a medical bill that should be covered through a strong social safety net, not by asking those with the least to scrounge together what little they have.
The burden of helping marginalized people in need in our global community belongs to those with wealth and power….
The privileged countries of the world could take a lesson from the Navajo nation and Irish experience. And indeed, the U.S. took a huge step in that direction last week…[announcing] support for a version of the World Trade Organization proposal to temporarily waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.
This signal… could be a potentially transformative move in the global fight against COVID-19….
That’s why we support the…announcement. It embodies the spirit of the Navajo Nation and Irish solidarity.
When the U.S. took a stand this week to change course, it took a critical first step to[ward] vaccine equity.”
Let us pray: Dear God, giver of all good things. Help us to share the good things we have with those in need. Amen.