Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Sad but True?

More interesting observations from The Diplomad via PowerLine:

I see, however, no outpouring of support in most of the world's countries. The oil-rich Arabs? Where are they? But most frustrating and even angering is the lack of concern exhibited by average and elite members of the societies most directly affected. This was driven home in the course of an interminable meeting a few days ago discussing some silly resolution or another calling on the UN to appoint a "Special Representative for Tsunami Relief." A relatively senior Sri Lankan official leaned over and said to me, "Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." A nice compliment, I suppose, but on reflection a sad commentary not only about the rest of the world but presumably about Sri Lanka, itself. One would expect the affected countries to take the lead in relief efforts. None of the most seriously affected countries (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives) is a dirt poor country; all have well-established governments and national identities.

In Jakarta, aside from flags at half-staff, we have seen no signs of mourning for the victims: while employees and dependents of the American embassy spent their holiday loading trucks and putting together medicine kits, the city's inhabitants went ahead with New Year's parties; nightclubs and shopping centers are full; and regular television programming continues. At least 120,000 of their fellow countrymen are dead, and Indonesians hardly talk about it, much less engage in massive charitable efforts. The exceptionally wealthy businessmen of the capital -- and the country boasts several billionaires -- haven't made large donations to the cause of Sumatran relief; a few scattered NGOs have done a bit, but there are no well-organized drives to raise funds and supplies.

Begging the pardon of the cultural relativists, but might we not be allowed to raise -- ever so gently, of course -- the possibility that these differing reactions to human suffering, show Western civilization as the best we have on the planet? Maybe, just maybe Western civilization is morally superior.

I remember traveling to Asia on business and observing how fleeting life seemed to be to many non-Christians -- fleeting in the sense that death was a yawn (when it happened to others). Life seemed to be almost "throw-away." An edge to it when you were on the streets.

Is it simply because there are billions in Asia? I'm sure this contributes somewhat, but I also think if your civilization is rooted in a belief that life is precious and a Gift from God, you react differently to the loss of one or one hundred thousand souls. "I'm not my brother's keeper" was more of a rule than The Good Samaritan.

Yes, I'm making generalizations, but I would suggest The Diplomad's observations above echo similar thoughts.

Why wouldn't you want to help your fellow countrymen?

Why wouldn't you want to help your fellow man?

Do you care if you believe your neighbor is nothing but dust who has returned to dust?