'In Times of Tragedy, the US Steps Forward'
In Newsweek, president makes case for Haiti earthquake relief
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2010 4:16 PM CST
President Obama prays with congregation members at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Washington, Jan. 17, 2010. Obama spoke to the congregation about helping the people of Haiti after the earthquake.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – The United States is pouring money and personnel into earthquake-devastated Haiti not just to help its own citizens or bolster an ally, but because "that is who we are," President Obama writes in explaining why the relief effort is vital. In times of crisis, "when we are brought face to face with our own fragility, we rediscover our common humanity," he writes for Newsweek.

"For decades, America's leadership has been founded in part on the fact that we do not use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up," Obama writes But "governments alone are not enough," he acknowledges, pointing to the UN and nongovernmental organizations already on the ground as essential actors in the relief effort. And he predicts that "every American can look at this relief effort with the pride of knowing that America is acting on behalf of our common humanity."