Editorials

As we enter the new year, let’s care more

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Homeless Lorenzo Ward, 45, is given a can of insect repellent by a Miami police officer in Wynwood. Would you do the same?
Homeless Lorenzo Ward, 45, is given a can of insect repellent by a Miami police officer in Wynwood. Would you do the same? AP

An uncaring Miami. An even-more uncaring Hialeah.

A December report from personal finance website WalletHub claims we don’t give a hoot about the well-being of our neighbors.

As the report explains, caring is one of the most intimate and human ways to connect with others. And it can be expressed in many ways — “from helping an elderly person cross the street to fighting a house fire.”

Certain parts of America practice this virtue more than others. We are lacking in this department, WalletHub says.

The WalletHub study examined the 100 most populated cities in the United States and ranked them for their caring nature. There’s ample evidence that greater Miami is not heartless, but still …

Miami came in at No. 93, right below Hialeah, which finished at 92.

As we enter 2017, we do so with this embarrassing designation: The cities of Miami and Hialeah rank as two of the least compassionate places in the country.

Our initial response is to say: That couldn’t be true.

But what if it is?

To reach its findings, WalletHub used 32 indicators, including the percentage of homeless people given shelter, number of volunteer hours per person, percentage of income donated to charity, student-teacher ratios and voting rates for citizens.

The cities at the bottom of the list rated horribly in the categories that included violent crime, driving fatalities, child poverty, insurance rates and homelessness.

It’s certainly true that shootings targeting young people and drug-related overdoses were problems in Miami last year. And in early 2016, Miami counted the highest number of people living on its streets since 2006, even as overall homeless population dropped.

Of course, there is other evidence, not noted by WalletHub, that we indeed do care about others here: In November, the charitable drive known as Give Miami Day raised $9.1 million, a record. The United Way of Miami-Dade collected millions more for its charities. The Miami Herald sponsors Wish Book, a charitable holiday-time campaign, that collected thousands of dollars from generous readers.

But those are big campaigns. How about on a personal level? Do you care about the well-being of a homeless person who comes up to your car, or are you just aggravated, afraid and waiting for the light to turn green?

Do you do favors for your neighbors, or just wave from afar when you have to?

Do you help lost tourists? Can you truly say you care for your community, or just your immediate family and friends?

Do you ever go out of the way to help someone, or do you look away or act like you did not see them fall or drop something?

Hard evidence shows Miami and Hialeah were the two top cities clocking the lowest hours of volunteer work by its residents.

Maybe we just don’t care enough.

We were behind by other heavily populated areas. New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C., made the top 20, while Los Angeles and Detroit both ranked below Miami and Hialeah.

We can aspire to be more like WalletHub’s five most compassionate cities:, Madison, Wisconsin; Lincoln, Nebraska; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Boise, Idaho; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

So here’s another New Year’s resolution: Let’s get off this lousy list. We’re better than this.

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