As most of you know, I rarely write editorials for the magazine anymore. However, in light of the horrible tsunami that has devastated lives and killed over 135,000 people (# at magazine deadline), I feel compelled to make a few remarks and observations.
First and foremost is that our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this almost incomprehensible tragedy. There are no words to adequately capture our sense of horror for those poor people and their loved ones.
We encourage all of our readers to get involved and send whatever they can to help those in need. If you’d like more information on how to help, please contact the charity of your choice or go to cnn.com and click on “How to help” for a list of charities and organizations. Currently the direct link to the list is CNN Aid List. However, they may update their link in the next few days, so please check the main CNN site link above to make sure you have the most current information.
Next to the scope of tragedy itself. I think the most disturbing thing is the lack of action by President Bush immediately following the tragedy and the stinginess of some major US corporations. I know people like Colin Powell will argue that the president has done a lot to help and has helped coordinate an international effort from the beginning, but this administration and the US in general has a serious perception problem.
Why did it take 3 days for the President to give a press conference? And why was the initial dollar amount committed so low relative to other countries and our GDP? This was a huge opportunity for the US to show Muslims and others around the world that we do care and that we are a giving and generous country. I have no doubt that as time goes on we will emerge as the largest donor of money and assistance, but why didn’t we make that clear from the beginning. Given the scope of the devastation we could have easily come out and committed a much larger dollar amount. The President alone has the ability to give up to 50 Million dollars per country affected with no congressional approval.
From a humanitarian point of view, it’s beyond tragic. And from a national security perspective it’s inexcusable. Indonesia has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world and the terrorists already have a strong foothold in many areas. We had a huge opportunity to show the people of this part of the world that America is not the big bad wolf only interested in oil and the almighty dollar. Instead we look petty and have given the terrorists fuel for their cause. Experts are already saying that they are sure to try and recruit the survivors, especially orphaned children. The sooner we step in with help, the more likely it is we will win over some of those hearts and minds. The more we drag our heels the more we help the terrorists and their recruiting campaign.
And this administration is not the only guilty party in all of this. What about corporate America? There are already some corporations jumping in and sending products like water and of course money. But many are sitting on the sidelines almost a week later. And some like Wal Mart are giving far less than their fair share. What does it say when the largest corporation in the world is only giving 2 Million dollars. (The amount publicly disclosed at magazine deadline.) That’s a joke! Pfizer a smaller company, relative to Wal Mart, is donating 10 Million dollars and an estimated 25 Million worth of medicines and healthcare products. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of the pharmaceutical corporations, but I find that refreshing. I could spend a lot of time listing donations, but I think you get the point. Wal Mart and others have let us down and have shirked their corporate responsibility to the world community that they so greedily take from. I encourage each and every one of you to let Wal Mart and other corporate leaches know just how you feel about their response, or lack of it. Personally between this and the general business practices of Wal Mart, I will never spend another dollar in their stores again. I know it’s tempting to save money now, but it hurts all of us in the long run. If you doubt me on that one, do a search on PBS.org or watch Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN for a few days and you’ll begin to understand just how bad they really are for our future.
In closing I’d like to say thank you to all of our readers who step up and speak their minds and to all of you who generously donate your time and services to help others. And a special thank you to the organizations and groups who provide us with material for this magazine every month. We wish all of you a safe and Happy New Year! May 2005 be a better year for all of us, especially those affected by this horrible natural disaster!
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