The December 26 tsunami in the Indian Ocean was the deadliest disaster of its kind in recorded history, killing at least 228,000 people, as of today, and possible tens of thousands more. Although not the worst natural disaster of all time, (an earthquake in China in 1976 killed 242,000, the 1918 Influenza pandemic killed between 25 and 100 million. See the List of Natural Disasters), it was one of the worst in modern history and one of the first caught on video.
My provocative question of the day: is the tsunami overhyped? We give a lot of money to charity, although not exactly close to 10% of our income (we give, but we don't tithe). We didn't give any money towards the tsunami disaster because we wanted to focus our giving on our normal charitable priorities.
It turns out that even during times of great need, like the tsunami tragedy or September 11, people don't increase their overall giving, they divert it away from the everyday needs. Organizations like the Red Cross and United Way suffer, not to mention the thousands of needy people who rely on emergency care. Because of this, I greatly admire President Bush's move to include January's donactions to tsunami relief in 2004's deduction. I feel this move will cause people not to subtract what they give to tsunami relief from what they will overall give in 2005.
Still, for months, all I've been hearing on TV and the radion is tsunami this and tsunami that. I can't help feeling this is all a little hypocritical. After this is all said and done, we'll still have a quarter of a million people dead and a bunch of Americans will be patting themselves on the back for being so generous. Meanwhile, in their own backyards, millions of the unwashed sit ignored and unhelped.