January 9, 2005

Charity Begins Abroad

Every day, in every way, The Diplomad gets better and better. Could it be that it employs a very simple technique? The truth.

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. We have seen nothing akin to what happened in the USA following the 9/11 atrocity, or the hurricanes in Florida of this past year.

The Sri Lankan's words echo in my mind every day, ""Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." With the exception of handful of Western countries, most of the world would appear inhabited by the sort of Eloi-type creatures depicted in that old sci-fi flick based on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, passively watching as flood waters or Morlocks drag their fellows away.

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.

Posted by Vanderleun at January 9, 2005 11:26 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

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Posted by: michael at January 9, 2005 11:53 AM

I was kind of figuring this was the case by wondering why some of those nations couldn't handle it themselves. They have plenty of wealth and resources on their own, certainly enough to help their own people.

India, to its credit, said it didn't need any help but would ask in case it did.

I contributed initially, but I won't from here on in.

Posted by: mark butterworth at January 9, 2005 1:39 PM

No, no, no...Diplomad must be scheduled immedietely for re-education. It is very simple really, "Western civilation bad, very very bad, all others good, the most primitive being the best". How did the state department ever let this loose cannon slip past their sensitive detectors. Diplomad, or the group making up Diplomad, are probably also God believing Christians, oh the horror.

Posted by: phil gilbert at January 10, 2005 8:17 AM

FYI, I've tried to sustain a discussion of this issue at my blog.

Posted by: Solomon2 at January 18, 2005 9:27 PM