Editor’s Note: This post is the first publication for a new blog within Avonews Online, currently titled “The 11%”.
Current Avonews staff falling within the district’s statistics for minority population are invited to add perspectives, reflections, and commentary in a platform centered within a minority viewpoint.
Gbemi Odebode, class of 2025:
How we love our fellow Americans has been a problem, playing our nation from the inception, but has become a hot button issue, particularly in the last five years. What does it mean to love thy neighbor? When politics and creed brings people further and further apart, what does it mean to take care of your neighbor when debates over Social Security and universal healthcare split dinner tables during the holidays.
The United States is a prime example of a hyper-individualistic society. When compared to nations across the globe, we rank high in selfishness and distrust. Americans are more likely to hoard resources to themselves, and to ignore strangers in danger. This societal fingerprint can be traced back to the core ideals of our nation. Those of liberty and freedom seem to have overtaken that of fraternity.
Save an event for natural disaster or terrorist attack, Americans are reluctant to pour their resources into altruistic causes. Regardless of the wealth we manage to accumulate— with one of the highest GDP per capita of any nation in the world, and one of the highest GDP of any nation in the world— Americans are trapped in a perpetual starvation mindset. We believe that if we give and give, at some point, there will be nothing left and no one will offer anything to take.
Even religious organizations suffer from this roaming need to protect themselves, this intrinsic sense of tribalism. Whether it be for your family, organization, state, or race, it becomes increasingly hard to truly love our neighbors. This fracturing of our society has made it incredibly hard for political compromise and tolerance.
How is it that with all of our well and resources and education we suffer among the worst wealth disparities in the western world. That we allow our poor to get poorer while creating special benefits to favor our rich. Although Nigeria is not perfect, it is definitely a society in which people take care of their neighbors. It comes as second nature to loan your neighbor your generator to watch their children, regardless of how well you know each other. In Nigeria, you are your neighbor’s keeper.
We as Americans have more than enough to share. As we continue to accumulate wealth, it is important we think about how we love our neighbors— how we look up to the people around us, and those even more distant. Whether it is across county, state, and even coastal lines, it’s important that we don’t just think of our fellow American when they agree with us or do something for us. We can not heal as a nation until we see our fraternity as more than transactional.
We must be able to come together as a nation at any time. Organizations like the Red Cross should be able to collect enough blood and donations year around, not just in the event of terrible disasters. Examine how you, with all the resources you have as an everyday American, love thy neighbor, how you take care of them, and how you look out for them— even if you don’t think they’re looking out for you. This is not a demand to stretch your neck out so far that it breaks, more of a call to see where you could be stretching out your neck just a little bit further. if each of us did a little bit more for my neighbor then no one would have to worry about having to take it when they needed it.
Abandon your sense of tribalism and embrace your humanity. Love your neighbor not because of what they look like or what they do for you, but for the simple fact that they are human and you are too.