Thursday, September 01, 2005

we are distressed

Maybe I wasn't paying perfect attention, but I thought Paul Martin's message of support to the US was a bit slow and understated. I suppose when terrible things happen to rich neighbours we hold back a bit with the super-mega financial donations, but surely the words of condolences could have been sooner coming and broadcast a little louder. I know Canadians are helping and we are sending assistance in many forms, but it's nowhere near the big post-tsunami aid dollars, I suppose understandably given it is a different scope? The US is supposed to have the infrastructure and resources to deal with a disaster; Sri Lanka does not.

Still, it's impossible to not do anything. There is no way to measure human misery. It all breaks your heart. It all demands as generous a response as we can muster.

I suppose the US is arguably a bit stretched on the military front. I read that they are only sending 100 military guards to the Superdome in New Orleans to help manage the 25 000 people (some of whom are evacuated inmates from local prisons) stranded there in desperate conditions. The guy coordinating the evacuation reportedly said that 100 was nowhere near enough to do the job.

There's still chaos in most of Iraq and civilians there aren't feeling remotely safe yet, but I would hope that sending a few troops to help out fellow countrymen -- where there is no significant cultural, ideological, economic, linguistic or political difference to contend with -- and where they would be unquestioningly welcome by the majority of people -- would be a little more successful.

On top of that, I am wondering where the big donations are from America's wealthiest. When are the culturally ubiquitous Hiltons and Trumps, for example, going to pony up some dough?

Maybe they already have, but have done it discreetly, anonymously, (in the spirit of true philanthropy, giving generously without drawing attention or accolades to oneself). But it's hard to believe that these spotlight-hogging self-promoting folks would suddenly modify their style now and be so humble.

Many of the people who lost everything were already below the poverty line, and living on drained swampland, the cheapest places to build and live. Maybe Martha is too busy rebuilding her post-prison empire and redecorating the ranch to send money to buy more cots for the gym where tens of thousands of refugees will be living for the next few months?

If you want to make a donation, try Canada Helps. It's fast and easy.


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