An imperative handed to us by history


As an Irish person who has adopted the United States as his home away from home, I am probably more in tune with the echoes of our collective national history than I might have been, had I never left. The global impact of wave after wave of emigration from that small island on the Atlantic’s western edge has been truly immense. One can only really appreciate our disproportionate influence on the wider world by visiting, living, and working abroad.

But we should never forget how this came to be. Chances are, had the Irish not been repressed for centuries and forced to leave in our millions by starvation and poverty, things would look very different today.

All of that suffering and loss is built into our DNA. But so too is the resilience, strength, and compassion that comes with adversity. Irish Americans have been among the most generous people in the world when it comes to supporting others who are experiencing similar challenges to those of our own forbears. Almost subconsciously, we can identify and empathize with those who are oppressed, hungry, or displaced from their homes. Sadly, in today’s world – from those who survived the 7.8 magnitude Turkey-Syria earthquake to those still internally displaced by conflict in Ukraine -  they are not in short supply.

There are solutions, and my organization, Concern Worldwide US, is one of a number of Irish-founded aid agencies providing emergency relief and helping millions of people in some of the most fragile regions of the world. Concern deliberately seeks out the hardest-to-reach and most neglected communities, in part because we have that historic understanding of what it means to be forgotten and left behind.

“Dominic MacSorley is Humanitarian Ambassador of Concern Worldwide US. Concern Worldwide is Ireland’s largest humanitarian and development organization that operates in 25 of the world’s most fragile countries.”