January 1, 2005

Tsunami numbers.

I keep reading news reports about two numbers: those that died in last week's tsunamis and the amount of money that has been donated. There is a mismatch between those two numbers. The dead do not need money. It is very sad that so many people died, but the money is not for them. Money is needed to help the many people who survived and need fresh water and food. How many living people are suffering now? I haven't seen that number. And, of course, the pledge of money does not instantly cause food, water, and shelter to materialize where these people are. Soon we will hear -- will we not? -- about all those who have died because aid did not reach them soon enough. I have seen nothing about the many people must have perished long after they were swept out to sea: did they not cling to wreckage for days, waiting for someone to save them? We feel so helpless here, so far away, and we check the websites and feel sad over the number dead and happy over the money donated. But what grasp do we have on the ongoing tragedy of the living? Will the help we are trying to give reach these people before it is too late?

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