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Aftershock: Reaction to the tsunami disaster

by Archives January 5, 2005

With the death toll resulting from the Dec. 26 Tsunami now surpassing 155,000 casualties, and the various locations affected so far out of our reach, those wanting to lend aid to the helpless are, in fact, feeling incredibly helpless themselves. It’s because of this disaster, as horrendous as it is, that the world as a whole should stand to be more united than it has been at any time since World War II. While this Tsunami, which will likely be the worst natural disaster witnessed by our generation, is not an event that resembles war in nature, it nevertheless will reawaken the world to just what a fragile civilization we are, and how much we need to rely on each other.

When events like this take place, it may be the media’s responsibility to question our governments without rest as to why we are not giving more financial and medical relief to those in need. It’s the duty of journalists to hold those in power accountable for their actions more than ever, and this is exactly what happened in Canada. And while the sudden increase in government donations may have something to do with that, it’s also important for all societies, especially the Western Powers, to keep in mind the importance of their role as fellow human beings.

The contributions made by foreign governments, while some question their sums, can’t be trivialized in any manner. However, the true test of the impact made by this tragedy will come not from those bureaucrats responsible for the allocation of funds, but rather the everyman and everywoman who takes the time to make a contribution.

There have been atrocities in the world like the Rwandan genocide of just over a decade ago where at least 800,000 were massacred (although very few events ever have or ever will be able to stand alongside it) where the world observed but then shrugged its shoulders and moved on with its own problems. The reaction has not been the same in this case. Whether it be the nature of the atrocity, the publicity it has received or the simple fact that we have learned from the past, a tremendous response has been made.

It’s difficult to preach to the populous of a university that they should be making donations in the $50 to $100 range to help send relief to suffering areas. Clearly ours is a segment of society that would be among the most willing to donate relief, but sadly we are amongst those the least capable of making what would be considered a meaningful donation. However, there is no excuse for any of us to shrug at this event, with all the options out there.

According to sources, Canada is currently sending donations at a rate of $2.10 per capita, which isn’t necessarily entirely inadequate but could most certainly be higher. But when taking into account the frivolous things that many of us spend our earnings on (even if rarely), two bucks doesn’t seem like that outrageous of a demand. For those out there donating the price of coffee a day to a sponsor child in Africa or Asia, another coffee pot’s worth isn’t out of the realm of expectation.

Keeping in mind that the tsunami is barely two weeks behind us, with many still deciding what means of contribution they want to use, the level on which this has touched people will not be known in monetary terms for a while longer. The same thing can be said for how long this will remind us of the goodwill and unity that should be the foundation of human existence.

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