Why We Help

When discussing the campaign to end police brutality in Brazil “Don’t Kill for Me, Safe Games for All”, a friend said “I prefer to work on causes closer to home.” I stood there baffled. “Home,” I said, pondering the concept.

When I moved into my first apartment while in college, I recall sweeping the kitchen floor, giddy with excitement at my new independence and first apartment. I swept the kitchen then opened my back door and went into the hall. From there I swept down the rear steps and out onto the back porch. I didn’t stop there. I recall sweeping the pavement all the way out to the sidewalk where I proudly swept up to and including the gutter. I continue to hold that view of home, boundaryless, all encompassing. Carl Sagan asked that we cherish earth “the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” I understand.

It didn’t occur to me that injustice in Brazil should not matter to me. I hear Portuguese on the streets; I offer the occasional “obrigada” when I recognize the accent during transactions. But it isn’t familiarity that calls me to action, it is the moral imperative. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, the Rev. King said. He was an interloper in Birmingham at the time. We act because we care, we act because we should, we act because we can.

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