Monday, January 10, 2005


Yesterday morning at church we had an appeal for the victims of the tsunami, where we took up a collection to give to the various church-based aid organizations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In Saturday’s newspaper, it was reported that Australians had already given over $100 million to the cause, while the Prime Minister announced a staggering $1000 million aid package over the next five years. That night, the three commercial television networks simultaneously broadcast a charity concert expected to raise further millions. Meanwhile, every shop I’ve been into over the last few days, from the Dome in Applecross to the petrol station on the corner, has a donation jar in the counter, and they’re always stuffed full.

I’d like to think that this astonishing rush of generosity is a result of human empathy; an act of grace by people who recognise how richly they’ve been blessed with peace and prosperity. But I’m a cynical old bastard, and while I appreciate that some of this largesse springs from such a spirit of pure altruism, I don’t think it’s the whole reason. I think this has become a fad.

Make no mistake, it’s a good fad. It’s possibly the best fad ever. But it is a fad, just like razor scooters, hypercolour T-shirts or tamagochis. In the first few days following the tsunami, I think people gave as a direct result of pure charity, but as time wore on, donating became a demonstration of being in touch with the Now. If you donate, you’re up to the minute. You know what’s going on. You’ve conspicuously consumed the product du jour. I’m not saying that this is a conscious thing - quite the opposite - but I think it’s there.


Blogger Melina said...

I know what you're saying! I have so many of those rubber bracelets in many different colors and so many different causes I feel like a teenager from the 80's! But, it's definitely worth it.

5:57 AM  
Blogger MooCow said...

I'm with ya.

In fact I'm choosing not to donate to the Tsunami relief effort. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a horrible horrible tragedy, the likes of which I've never seen in my lifetime.

I remember reading an article a maybe 9 months after 9/11 about the number of charities/non-profits in the US that were struggling because everyone was donating to 9/11 related causes. People who had been giving money to environmental groups, to animal protection groups, to cancer groups weren't anymore.

And that to me is sad...

2:14 AM  

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