Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Sunday, January 09, 2005  

How it works

Diplomad (via American Digest) has a post that confirms what I had been thinking on the tsunami countries:

I see, however, no outpouring of support in most of the world's countries. The oil-rich Arabs? Where are they? But most frustrating and even angering is the lack of concern exhibited by average and elite members of the societies most directly affected. This was driven home in the course of an interminable meeting a few days ago discussing some silly resolution or another calling on the UN to appoint a "Special Representative for Tsunami Relief." A relatively senior Sri Lankan official leaned over and said to me, "Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." A nice compliment, I suppose, but on reflection a sad commentary not only about the rest of the world but presumably about Sri Lanka, itself. One would expect the affected countries to take the lead in relief efforts. None of the most seriously affected countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives) is a dirt poor country; all have well-established governments and national identities.

In Jakarta, aside from flags at half-staff, we have seen no signs of mourning for the victims: while employees and dependents of the American embassy spent their holiday loading trucks and putting together medicine kits, the city's inhabitants went ahead with New Year's parties; nightclubs and shopping centers are full; and regular television programming continues. At least 120,000 of their fellow countrymen are dead, and Indonesians hardly talk about it, much less engage in massive charitable efforts. The exceptionally wealthy businessmen of the capital -- and the country boasts several billionaires -- haven't made large donations to the cause of Sumatran relief; a few scattered NGOs have done a bit, but there are no well-organized drives to raise funds and supplies. We have seen nothing akin to what happened in the USA following the 9/11 atrocity, or the hurricanes in Florida of this past year.

Begging the pardon of the cultural relativists, but might we not be allowed to raise -- ever so gently, of course -- the possibility that these differing reactions to human suffering, show Western civilization as the best we have on the planet? Maybe, just maybe Western civilization is morally superior.

I was kind of figuring this was the case by wondering why some of those nations couldn't handle it themselves. They have plenty of wealth and resources on their own, certainly enough to help their own people.

India, to its credit, said it didn't need any help but would ask in case it did.

I contributed initially, but I won't from here on in.

If the very people affected by this terrible event cannot be moved to care about their countrymen, I don't see why I should subsidize their inhumanity.

Is it inhumane for me not to do more even though the very people closest to the victims do not help? No. Mexico is a nation where people suffer a great deal. I don't send money to help there when it is a nation with great resources and wealth which could help itself if it wished.

The same is true all over the world where people suffer from kleptocracies and tyrant thugs.

The best we can do is to send missionaries to try and convert them to Protestantism (even though I'm a Catholic, that denomination stinks as a civilizing force for the rule of law, tolerance, and civil rights).

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:43 PM |