“Dad, could that happen here?” my 9-year-old daughter asked while we sat on the couch and watched the telethon Friday night raising money for Haiti earthquake relief efforts. The questions kept coming as we sat on the couch and watched the reports of ongoing relief efforts in Haiti in the wake of the massive earthquake that has claimed what many believe to be as many as 150,000 lives.

“Dad, could that happen here?” my 9-year-old daughter asked while we sat on the couch and watched the telethon Friday night raising money for Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

“Could that many people die here of an earthquake?”

“Why don’t they have enough doctors there?”

“Why don’t they have homes to go to?”

The questions kept coming as we sat on the couch and watched the reports of ongoing relief efforts in Haiti in the wake of the massive earthquake that has claimed what many believe to be as many as 150,000 lives.

It was hard for a 9-year-old to imagine what life would be like living in pure chaos. She didn’t understand why their country didn’t have 30-story hospital buildings nor hundreds of doctors ready to help those in need.

She didn’t understand why the people there didn’t have enough money to buy groceries, or why they couldn’t just go to the local Wal-Mart and replace everything they lost in the earthquake.

I wasn’t prepared to provide good answers to her questions. Like her, I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that here was an entire country on the brink of crumbling from existence. Haiti was already a third-world country, home to citizens just trying to survive day-to-day.

That day-to-day survival has now become minute-to-minute.

The outpouring of money and support for Haiti relief efforts is inspiring. During that telethon, tens of millions of dollars were raised by citizens across the country, giving what they could to help global neighbors they will most likely never meet.

There have been isolated incidents of complaints asking why America is spending so much money and resources on rebuilding and rescuing Haiti when we have problems at home that go unnoticed. To me, the rebuttal to that claim is simple.

When you live in the greatest nation on the planet, it is your responsibility to do what you can to help all of mankind.

I didn’t always think that way.

My thinking didn’t change until a trip in 1997 when I spent 26 days traveling through Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, China.

Those are 26 days that forever changed my life. It was the first time I had traveled outside the U.S., and those three-plus weeks opened my eyes to what life is like outside of the cocoon of the Red, White and Blue.

I will never forget walking the neighborhoods of Beijing, the capital city, and visiting with residents who were the heart of the city.

They cooked their meals by campfire, and washed their clothes by hand. Their homes did not have indoor plumbing, and they used community “squatters” for restrooms.

To the citizens of China, two American men from Southwest Missouri seemed like rock stars. Children came up to us and wanted to give us high-fives and take pictures with us. During a trip to a zoo, we quickly became the main attraction as we soon realized we had a large group of children following our every move.

To them, we were a small symbol of what they thought to be the “American dream.”

After that experience, I realized how fortunate we all are to be living the American dream, and how easy it is for us to forget that we are blessed in so many ways.

While sharing this story with my daughter, Quinette asked, “Dad, why doesn’t everyone move to America?”

Again, without going into a 20-minute lecture on immigration laws, I didn’t have a good answer for her, except to say, “because to all of us, home is where our family lives. Home is where our families come from. To you, Neosho is home. To them, Haiti is home, and they don’t want to leave.”

It is my hope that my daughters are able to travel the world as they grow older, and that they too gain experiences of other cultures.

In the meantime, I will try to come up with better answers to their questions as parenthood become more difficult with age.

Rick Rogers is the publisher of the Neosho Daily News in Neosho, Mo.