Monday, December 27, 2004

An Urgent Call for Aid

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

Well, Merry Christmas! Or Happy Kwanzaa, whatever the hell that is. I had originally intended to post a sentimental piece on the true meaning of Christmas, but it has been overtaken by events I must cover first. The other piece will appear later.

Unless you are an extremely self-centered individual or you are completely isolated from the rest of humankind, you know of the horrific events of Sunday. Off the coast of Indonesia, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the strongest in 40 years, set off monstrous tsunamis that have left an unparalleled and unprecedented swath of destruction across the Indian Ocean basin from Thailand to Somalia. At the time of this writing, more than 22,000 are confirmed dead in 10 nations and that number is expected to rise further.

For comparison, we lost less than 3,000 individuals in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In terms of loss of life, that makes this more than 7 times worse than 9/11, and about 4 times worse than the bloodiest day in American history, September 17, 1862, the day of the battle of Antietam in the Civil War. All the horrible bloodletting of those clear September days pales before the cataclysm that has now descended on Southern Asia.

The scale of this tragedy is beyond the ability of us mere mortals to even truly comprehend. So, perhaps the natural human reaction is to say, "That's really sad. Now please pass the sports page." But the people in this region need aid NOW! This is likely to be the costliest natural disaster in human history. Relief organizations are rushing to the scene, but they need our help. This is where you and I come in.

A good organization to contribute to is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) I can personally vouch for UMCOR. Several years ago, a devastating earthquake killed more than 20,000 people in India. Wanting to help, I inquired as to whether the church that I attended was doing anything for the victims of this disaster. When the answer came back in the negative, I led a drive at my church that garnered almost a thousand dollars one Sunday for UMCOR's relief efforts in India. UMCOR does this kind of thing all the time and they are good at it. They have the infrastructure in place to respond rapidly to any disaster, anywhere in the world. They just need the financial resources to help. Other good reputable organizations just off the top of my head include the Red Cross ( and Doctors Without Borders (

It may sound like a tired, worn-out cliche, but no matter how much or how little you can give, every little bit helps. I implore everyone who reads this to ask themselves "What can I do?" Maybe, like Isaiah, a little voice inside you will respond, "Here I am Lord. Send me."