I watched six hours of tsunami news the first night, dousing myself in CNN reports. I was rubber necking, only i’m not sure if i was trying to see the tsunami wreck or the CNN wreck. I was in complete awe by the coverage, utterly angry in fact. Although there were loads of interviews with survivors, not a single survivor’s voice shown on CNN was brown. In other words, all we saw were the rich white American tourists. Reports babbled on about what would happen if America was hit with a tsunami, complete with little simulations. As the death toll rose, a special report was given from Alaska where the US last experienced a tsunami. Comparisons were made about the magnitude, the harm, the horror. Less than a dozen people were killed in that one. Reports were given about how to protect yourself from a tsunami if it were to hit New York. Dear fucking god we are a selfish nation.
So, our country was guilted into supplying more money for the relief and Bush gets on TV to defensively resist accusations that we are a stingy nation. Of course we are a stingy nation – we always have been. ::sigh::
Then i woke to the following email in a thread on a mailing list:
what i’m looking for is an organization who will take my volunteer efforts in SE asia. i’ll fly out there, no problem. i’ll perform hard labour for 2 weeks straight. but i can’t afford to get my own lodging and food. no one wants my help. anyone know of any organization that would?
First, this man’s intentions are really good – he really wants to help, but his help is constructed in a typically American way. He’s willing to give up time – one precious American commodity – but not money. But let’s think about this. He wants to go to a devastated region that is devoid of food, shelter and water. He wants to put in hard labor to help a starving, dehydrated, homeless population and he’s demanding these amenities!?!?!? You have got to be kidding me. Now, i am guessing that most of the villagers in these regions are putting in hard labor to repair their communities. And they’re doing it without food water or housing. What kind of selfish, clueless request is this? But of course, in America, we want to help with any commodity other than money. We don’t like giving money. That’s fucking ridiculous when almost every NGO and NPO needs money more than anything. They need to buy things in the local regions, help the people there. This is not just true for the tsunami relief situation, but in general.
Consider the clothing drives that are currently going on in the States. You want to ship off your $30 white branded T-Shirt. This was most likely created in an Asian country for maybe ? ten cents ?, sold to a manufacturer for maybe a quarter. You want to package this up, spend a bazillion dollars on shipping and send it back to Asia!?!? If you sent $10, at least 40 of your beloved T-Shirts could be bought. More importantly, the organizing NGOs could buy the most economical T-Shirts, support the local region’s economy and make certain that people got what they needed.
So when you think of donating blood or donating clothing, what are you really saying? You’re saying you’re too damn cheap to donate money. Money is what is needed, money is how these organizations can make certain to buy the maximum amount of needed materials and distribute them in the best way possible. Considering that time equals money, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably spent $.50 assuming minimum wage only. Consider how much time you spend reading blogs or about the tsunami – donate that time multiplied by your hourly wage. Or, given that it’s New Year’s Eve, why not donate the amount of money that you spent today on champagne, food and party tickets.
We are a stingy nation.