how not to help those affected by disasters

When humanity tries to be at its best in the wake of a tragedy, the bowels of the internet hand out megaphones to some of its worst members.

tsunami map

Even if you really do live under a rock, you know about the powerful earthquake which struck just off the coast of Japan, registering an 8.9 on the Richter scale, releasing the energy equivalent to setting off 272 megaton nuclear warheads in one blast, slowing the Earth’s day by 1.6 nanoseconds, and generating a tidal wave that washed away entire villages. Hundreds are dead, numerous people are missing, and even though Japan is no stranger to powerful quakes and has some of the strictest building codes in the world for just that reason, rebuilding after this disaster won’t be easy. But while across the world, millions of people are donating to the Red Cross and governments are offering any help they can, social networks have been exploding in the kinds of personal reactions to this quake that make you want to howl in rage. Just take a cursory look around Reddit and you’ll find hundreds of screenshots of people using Facebook to tell the Japanese to accept their religion after receiving this devastation as a sign, leaving any calls for help at prayer, and even recalling Pearl Harbor, which oh by the way, happened nearly 60 years ago.

It’s truly depressing that in the midst of a tragedy, we have so many ghouls on a proselytizing mission, people who apparently live in the past where half a century of relationships with Japan haven’t been established and reinforced by trade deals and military agreements, and those too lazy to send a few dollars to the Red Cross to aid in the search, rescue, and emergency efforts but still want to pretend they’ve done something. Like I’ve said before, social media gives you enough rope to hang yourself so you should think before you type. If you’re really interested in helping the people of Japan, get off your knees, stop acting like you’ve been endowed by a deity to cast judgment on an entire nation’s religious beliefs, either contribute to the Red Cross or to Doctors Without Borders, as well as other well-established relief organizations, or ask those who can if you’re broke but still want to help out, and stop pretending that thinking into the sky will help. People help people after a big natural disaster. Metaphysical constructs don’t. I’m sure you’d want a doctor to examine your injuries after you were buried alive in a collapsed building more than you’d want to know that a sanctimonious well-wisher on the other side of the world thought to an invisible man in the sky about how nice it would be if you survive…

# politics // disaster relief / earthquake / japan / religion

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