Mar. 14th, 2011

rensong: (not so far away)
I stopped watching the news years ago, so while I knew about the huge earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, I hadn't actually thought much about it until a friend linked to some of the news footage in Facebook.

Seeing the damage was... devastating. Watching this wave of water pushing entire buildings and semi trucks around as if they were nothing more than bathtub toys even more so. The kicker, though, the one that really tugged at my heart strings, was the footage of all those people, watching in shocked awe at first, and then terror and fear as the tidal wave buried their cities under meters of mud and the shattered debris of human lives and livelihoods.

Moments later, after I had done the "Text REDCROSS to 90999" thing and donated to the Japan Disaster funds, I ran across the posts of several people who were wondering why the hell we should bother bail Japan's ass out of the fire again when they haven't done anything for us, and then used Katrina and the US recession as examples of Japan's utter lack of assistance when we needed it. Me being me, I couldn't let it pass without remark.

This isn't an accusation, mind, just my opinion, and my own attempt to think outside the box.

Katrina was... a huge mess, and no one handled it well - not even the US. It also happened over five and a half years ago. A lot can change in that amount of time, and many of those changes involved digital leaps and bounds, especially in communication networks. These advances in digital media and social communities have made it unbelievably easy to donate to a particular cause on a whim, no paperwork or credit-card information required - all you need is a phone number, and one brief, simple text. We didn't have that kind of system in place six years ago. Who is to say that had Katrina happened now - in this hay-day of the digital media and communication - the US wouldn't have had hundreds of thousands of dollars of disaster support headed our way in mere hours of the hurricane hit the coast, and all of these funds from plain old citizens in other developed countries around the world who just wanted to help?

We have been very lucky. Aside from the economy crashing - and that is a global thing, not just our problem - the US hasn't had a horrific disaster like Katrina in five and a half years. Places like Haiti, and now the earthquake and tsunami in Japan... they, unfortunately, cannot say the same.

I'm sure you could argue about the massive flooding in the southeast this past summer and the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as examples of the rest of the world's failure to give us a helping hand when we needed it, and you're probably right. The thing about America, though, is we're kind of like the garbage control and cleaning services of the world. Easily ignored and taken for granted when we're around, but the moment we refuse to help clean up another mess, our name would be slandered and we'd be labeled as ungrateful and greedy. I don't pretend to be very patriotic, but I do admit - as a country, it it is just in our nature to want to help, to want to "fix things", even when they aren't necessarily broken. A habit that has gotten us in trouble in the past, many times. To stop trying, though, would be kind of like denying the ingrained American honor that we all have, no matter where we stand on politics or religion.

Helping out is just what we do - not because we're a high and mighty country, but because we are human. We are in a position to help, and a lot of innocent people over there a world away from us are really hurting right now.

"Pay it forward" is a pretty common phrase this day and age, which is another reason it would be un-American - and inhumane - to see people in need and not offer them help. Pay it forward, and maybe the next time, when the United States is the one trying to pick up the scattered pieces of her broken cities - and her broken lives - the rest of the world will be quicker to have our back.

Helping out is what we do. Here is how we can.


rensong: (Default)

February 2012


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