On ‘World Humanitarian Day’ remember that humanity begins at home

The phrase ‘charity begins at home’ is, when you think about it, talking about a sense of humanity that ought to be nurtured in the home. We are all exposed to little acts of humanity and kindness everyday – the person who opens a door for you, money given to a homeless person, the bus driver who stops when he sees you running for the bus – but we don’t equate these acts of kindness with the concept of humanity. Therein lies the mistake.

The word ‘humanitarian’ is always only associated with the work carried out by aid agencies, NGOs, the UN and government agencies that provide aid whether in money or in kind. It is always seen as a delivery mechanism as opposed to a cumulative or individual act of helping others in need. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “One Humanity.” According to the US Department of State, this year’s Humanitarian Day ‘asks all of us to stand together, to recognize our shared responsibility to help those overtaken by calamity’.

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It falls to everyone of us to help to make a difference. It starts at home with not looking away when large scale disasters, war scenes or stories about refugees are featured on the news. By not turning away you are more likely to experience sympathy or empathy which will spur you on to act in a variety of ways to help. It starts at home when you decide to donate a sum of money, no matter how small. It starts at home when you share via Facebook or Twitter or any other social media medium news of human suffering to raise awareness of what is happening. By raising awareness it also puts pressure on governments and agencies to act in the interests of those who are suffering.

So you see, on ‘World Humanitarian Day’ let us remember that all of us have a role to play while still applauding those courageous men and women who physically make monumental humanitarian efforts to work in areas where strife is endemic.


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