# 349, December 31, 2004
COLUMBUS: That earthquake and tsunami kinda knocked the “Happy” right out of “Happy New Year.”
If that 9.0 earthquake had struck on dry land, say in California or Japan or China, the world would be mourning the deaths of maybe a million people and wondering how nature could split the ground apart for hundreds of miles. Half of California could be a few feet under the Pacific Ocean instead of just recovering from a foot of rain.
But no, the earth shifted under the Indian Ocean, and didn’t hurt anybody directly. But the tsunami that followed, on a beautiful sunny morning after Christmas, was the worst in history. And it happened where no one expected it or was prepared for it, kinda like a massive hurricane would be in North Dakota.
That fellow Jan Egeland, who’s in charge of raising money for the United Nations, got kinda snooty because our government didn’t jump in immediately with a Billion dollars to finance the recovery operation. Of course if President Bush had made such an announcement, instead of waiting a few days to guarantee at least $350 million, many folks around the world would have blamed us for trying to take over.
Unlike some countries, we don’t depend on our government to contribute for us, we step up and sign our own checks. Americans are reaching deep in their pockets and collectively giving millions. In addition Bill Gates, Wall-Mart, Pfizer, Coca-Cola and thousands of other successful companies and wealthy individuals are donating millions each. Around the world many other companies and governments have jumped in with huge contributions.
Among the donors I didn’t see if the billionaire bin Laden has promised anything to aid his fellow Muslims in Indonesia. So far his only response since the tragedy was to kill a few more of them in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
I have a question about how to help those left homeless along the devastated coasts. I’m not talking about where the whole island was flooded, that’s different. But where the coast is no more than a mile or two wide, why don’t the survivors walk inland to higher ground? Sure, they might have to walk barefoot uphill, and the injured would have to be carried, but they could find fresh water, escape the danger of illness, and people from the unaffected parts of the country could share their food. That would give the relief aid a few days to arrive from all parts of the globe, and most of it could be directed to those islands where there’s no high ground to walk to.
It seems a whole lot easier for people to move to where fresh water is available rather than having to ship a million little bottles of it from Atlanta.
Now this football news don’t seem so important in the context of these tragic world events, but you might want to know that Ohio State defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys 33-7 in the Alamo Bowl. We’ve got more bowl games over the next few days, so there’ll be a lot of cheering. But Mr. Egeland can rest assured we won’t forget about the tsunami.
Historic quote from Will Rogers:
“People are marvelous in their generosity if they just know the cause is there.” DT #1523, June 10, 1931