Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Why So Generous?

The question is being asked in the media: why have individual Canadians been so generous with monetary donations for tsunami relief?

I believe there are three major reasons:

- we have seen the devastation immediately in the media. We see film footage (including horrifying amateur videos) continuously on television, and whole sections of our newspapers devoted to personal stories and developments on the emergency relief and foreign aid front;

- the continual images of destruction, death and people in need sharply contrast with the bounty many of us have experienced in this holiday season. Getting luxury items, clothing, a handful of gift cards and Christmas money suddenly seems horribly out of whack with the reality experienced by the rest of the world; and

- the ability to easily make donations to major relief organizations by credit card over the Internet. It is easy to get carried away with one's emotions and donate significantly more than usual. In this case, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I've also heard it said that people are feeling more generous because of the "holiday spirit". Perhaps this is so, but I expect most people feel generous at least to their immediate circle of friends and family most of the time. To give generously to people in need on the other side of the world, we have had to feel something extraordinary.

I believe many people's eyes were opened with the tragedy of September 11, 2001. This greater loss may have solidified the Western World's general understanding of how we are all needed to support each other on this little blue marble called "Earth". I only hope we don't forget this generosity of spirit.

3 comments:

Jen said...

I think there may be another reason as well. Since Canada is so diverse, many of us know or have known people from India or Sri lanka or other affected areas. My best friends from highschool were Indian and I know their families are still over there (although I don't think they're in the south) and also my roommate first year of university was Sri Lankan. So if I'm thinking like this, then there may be others thinking too of the folks they've met over the years.

rakerman said...

I agree with Jen that the diverse Canadian population, with many people either from the region or knowing someone from there, was a factor in the contributions.

I also think the slow and (initially) small response from the Canadian government had individual Canadians thinking "we can do better than that, faster".

Connie said...

I agree heartily with you both. Also, I was thinking because there are Canadians who were killed or are missing, that even those without relatives in the region feel somehow personally affected.

Compare this with other relief efforts that are going on--the Globe and Mail talked yesterday about aid for AIDS/HIV treatment in Africa, how they have not seen these types of resources come forward. I think all of these reasons have moved people above and beyond the norm.

Have you noticed how many commercials are currently on TV for other charities and relief efforts? Is that just normal for this time of year, or are they trying to take advantage (too harsh a phrase for this case) of people's current generosity?