Anyone who listened to Pop Music in 1985 remembers the song “We are the World”. Fourty five musical legends recorded this infamous song together as a collaborative effort by U.S.A. for Africa. The proceeds of the song raised funds for a hunger relief project in Africa.
The first stanzas of the song, and its chorus is as follows:
When we heed a certain callWhen the world must come together as oneThere are people dyingOh, and it’s time to lend a hand to lifeThe greatest gift of all
We can’t go onPretending day-by-dayThat someone, somewhere soon make a changeWe’re all a part of God’s great big familyAnd the truth, you know, love is all we need
We are the worldWe are the childrenWe are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start givingThere’s a choice we’re makingWe’re saving our own livesIt’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me
(We Are The World, 1985, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie)
The song itself was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It was produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. The sales of the record were over 20 million copies. And, it was the eighth best-selling single of ALL TIME. The album sales provided food relife from a famine that was raging in Ethiopia, and other parts of Africa from 1983-1985. The album raised almost $10.8 million (in today’s US dollars that is the equivalent to $29 million). And as of today, the album has raised over $63 million ($168 million in today’s US dollars).
I remember buying this album. My sister, my friends, and I memorized every single word. We knew the nuances of each singer’s voice. We could mimic Tina Turner, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson’s voices perfectly. And, we truly believed that WE could change the world by simply buying an album. Sure, we were naive, but how old were we at the time? We were 12 and 13-year-old kids, doe-eyed and encouraged to save the world with several dollars at our local Target, Woolworth, K-mart, or Bradlees markets.
Again, in 2010, another tragedy hit. The country of Haiti experienced an earthquake of 7.0 on the Richter scale. Over 230,000 civilians died, and musicians decided that it was time to record We Are the World 25 for Haiti”.
“We Are the World Haiti” was recorded with some of Hip Hop’s top artists. Michael Jackson had died before the release of the song, but his 1985 recordings were digitally added. This song was produced by Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, and Wyclef Jean. Wyclef Jean added Haitian Creole to the song. The song had 267,000 downloads in three days. In today’s terms, that would be as if 4,000,000 downloads were made in that short amount of time.
Everyday citizensEverybody pitching in
Nou sé mond laNou sé mondNou sé timoun yoNou sé timoun yo
You and IYou and I
Uh, 12 days no waterWhat’s your will to live?We amplified the love we watching multiplyFeeling like the world’s endWe can make the world winLike Katrina, Africa, IndonesiaAnd now Haiti needs us, they need us, they need us
We are the world(We are the children)We are the childrenWe are the ones who make a brighter daySo let’s start givingNou sé mond la
(We are the World 25, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, LLC)
Note that the words at the end of the song reflect a Hip-hop melody created with the help of will.i.am and Wyclef Jean. The “Nou Se mond la is Haitian Creole for “We are the World”, Nou se timoun yo is Haitian Creole for “We are children”.
After the Haitian hurricane, here in Israel we heard of thousands of children who were orphaned from the tragedy. I found a way to download a form from the US Embassy to inquire about adopting a Haitian child.
I remember sitting by my computer, telling one of my best friends that I wanted to adopt a Haitian child, and I found the forms to do so. At the time, I had a very rambunctious three-year-old, and a very active five-year-old, as well as three older children. I was worried about how we would be able to manage to raise a Haitian child, along with the other children in our small town in Israel.
My town is one in which no one spoke Haitian Creole at the time, just Hebrew and English. It is a town in which few African American or Ethiopian immigrants had settled. I feared the racism the child would experience. And, I placed my fears above my heart. I decided not to adopt a child from Haiti. And, I truly will regret this choice for the rest of my life. I placed my fears above my heart. I could have saved a life from poverty, from destruction, and given him or her love, a new homeland, and lots of siblings.
We are at a crossroads right now. There are tempers flaring between the Jewish people defending their right to the State of Israel versus the evil Hamas entity whose charter states that killing Jews is part of their credo. Palestinians and pro-Palestinian youth are marching down the streets of every major city, neighborhood, and University campus throughout Europe and the United States. They are angrily tearing down Israeli flags, protesting, and creating panicked fear in their wake.
I was thinking of the sordid state of our World’s affairs when I suddenly heard “We are the World” on the local radio station, and it shot me back to that time when I too was colored by my fear of racism, and integration. I too was not strong enough to go the extra mile and adopt a child in need. I too had failed a broken family thousands of miles away.
Now it is our time to listen to our hearts and note that this is OUR moment. OUR time to take heed to the We Are The World statement:
We are the worldWe are the childrenWe are the ones who make a brighter daySo let’s start givingLet’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re makingWe’re saving our own livesIt’s true we make a better dayJust you and me.
It is time for us all to sing this song in Hebrew:
אנחנו אלה שעושים יום בהיר יותר
אז בוא נתחיל לתרום
יש בחירה שאנחנו מקיימים
אנחנו מצילים את חיינו
זה נכון שנביא יום חדש
We must make a difference NOW. This is our time. This is OUR WORLD we are defending. Are you ready? I am.