Is helping the same as exploiting??

I can't help but feel slightly annoyed by the constant coverage, in the media, of the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia. I know, it's a terrible disaster and it definitely deserves the attention of the world.

But... there are other terrible things happening too. For example, the people in Iran who are still suffering the consequences of the earthquake in Bam about a year ago (26 December 2004: 30,000 lives lost, some 80,000 people homeless). But that seems all but forgotten. And I don't remember there being such a "fuss" about that, and no mass-collecting of money.

The fact that there are so many people willing to give money to relieve the suffering in the striken areas is absolutely amazing. Shows that people aren't selfish muppets, but are capable of caring for people they don't know.

But why does it take something of this magnitude for that willingness to fork out to appear?

Same goes for the media. Here in Denmark the past week the 2 major national TV channels have put a great effort into collecting money. Notably one of them who held an all-day telethon on Saturday, with celebrities donating time and artefacts to be auctioned off (of course they've also put together the mandatory single to help raise money). The TV channel say that they are doing it with the noblest intentions, but I can't help but feel that there's also, well, another agenda there. Exploiting the disaster to get viewers... And also this channel does like to make everything into a show. It sickens me.

I hope that people, and companies too, would have contributed the same amount of money even if there hadn't been a show on television telling them to do so. But in a way I doubt it. Atleast in some cases. All day they had a streamer at the bottom of the screen saying how much money this or that company had donated. I'm sure some companies donated money only to be seen in a positive light by the consumers.

I wonder if the same companies donate money in other cases where's there's not such a big focus on it? I hope so. It just seems so random. Considering that there are also people in need in Denmark. But noone hosts a telethon for their benefit!!

Maybe it's something to do with the fact that the places affected, to Europeans atleast, seem like paradise. Places many people have been to on holiday. And it's the sheer familiarity of the places that make people want to reach out? The above example with Bam; not your typical idea of a holiday hotspot, is it? Iran! And they are all backwards Muslims, so who cares??

Am I being too cynical?

One thing I thought was very beautiful, though, was that even the Russian town of Beslan (where 350 people died after Chechen terrorists raided a school) donated £20,000 to the victims of the tsunami. {link}

Monday, January 10, 2005 posted by Wardi @ 7:35 PM