1/19/2010:

Each time there’s a giant disaster of some kind on this planet – the same thought come to my mind: “Oh, that’s terrible,” and wish for the best for those affected. Tragic acts of nature are impossible to avoid, and will continue forever.

Haiti looters fight and beat each other after earthquake

What makes gargantuan tragedies any different?

OK, I understand that anytime “large scale” events take place, they get more attention and need more “help” to clean up, recover from, and so on. But to me, it’s not as simple as that.

Seems that the recent colossal earthquake in Haiti has garnered more attention than any non-U.S. event in history. With all the new communication methods (Twitter, Facebook, SMS) it seems like everyone and their brother are supposedly “chipping in” for the cause. Is that necessarily a problem? Not really – it’s human nature after all – but with each ensuing biblical catastrophe, more pesky questions keep coming up.

What about us?

Homeless man on Newark Street by CVS Hoboken NJI’ll bet anything, that because of the enormity of this recent earthquake, that hundreds of thousands of individuals donated to the cause – but have never given to a local charity in their home town. I’d suspect it could even be seen as “trendy” to give, because “everyone else is,” and due to the massive coverage and marketing (“As seen on TV!”) they’re just reaching more people.

Believe it or not, there are bigger problems in the world – and even our own country! Starvation, homelessness, poverty and more. But because it doesn’t happen in one dramatic fell swoop – we tend not to notice – or care – as much. Why is that? Why do we gravitate so heavily towards the sensational?

Just imagine how much better our own country would be, if we just helped each other out more. Whether it’s your family, a neighbor, the elderly, a complete stranger and so on – if we just collectively stepped our own game up 1% more, and not wait till all hell breaks loose – we might see some surprising results. Then again, we all love “blockbusters,” right?

An opportunity for others?

Another thing that comes along with these disasters is the alarming number of groups, businesses and other organizations who all of a sudden feel the need to put together some kind of marketing scheme. Like adding the word “Haiti” to your event, store sale, gathering or charity is the buzz-word of the month. Are they doing it solely because of the tragedy? Or is there some underlying objective to “gain” something for themselves? (Money, exposure, attention). Can’t they just give to an existing and well-established charity on their own? Need it be publicized?

What about these charities?

I always wondered how people easily open their wallets for most charity organizations – without knowing much about them. In just the same manner in which governments and companies need to be audited, who’s watching the charities? How do we know they’re using your money efficiently? Or not “funneling” some money off the top in some nefarious way? Just because the “cause” is admirable, doesn’t mean some hanky-panky isn’t going on behind the scenes.

There’s so much money flying around at such a furious and urgent pace, from so many places, it’s impossible to keep track of what’s going on! How much is really needed? While I definitely feel that manpower and resources are necessary more than anything else, is it possible that they already met the fiscal requirements, and all that’s left is time and patience? I mean the “red zone” of damage in Haiti isn’t too much bigger than Hoboken (although other less severe damage was spread out around approx 20+ sq. miles). The logistics for handling disasters like this in an efficient manner is probably the biggest problem we’ll always have. You can never be fully prepared.

Some may frown upon my reasonable doubts and consider them unacceptable. But look at what happened with once untouchable institutions such as the churches (sexual abuse, money laundering, etc.)

It could very be that I’m the only one that sees beyond the desperate images of rubble and despair…

I’ll stick with my “one good deed a day” motto of living and keep it at that.