Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

I wrote a few days ago about my friends who weren’t going to donate to Katrina victims, and why.  Several things have happened since then:

1) One them did donate.  Not because he thought any of his original points were invalid or the situation changed.  Instead, he said it was because he saw how much the issue meant to me, and didn’t want me to think that he was insensitive to that.  I was touched.  Ironically, that type of show of support and caring is one of the reasons I think Canadians ought to give to Katrina victims….

2) My piece was picked up with my permission and published in The Tyee, a growing and cool online newspaper here in Vancouver.  I had meant to rewrite it a bit before it was re-published, but I didn’t, and I think it still holds up OK.

3) Someone from CKNW talk radio read my story in The Tyee and wanted me to join them for the afternoon show, “The World Today.”  I was impressed with myself briefly, but turned down the invitation.  I like to think my writing speaks for itself, and I didn’t know what more I would have been able to add to what I’ve already said, except that I can also see the other side of the issue and I say “um” a lot.

4) Another friend wrote to suggest that “the U.S. can afford to operate without a social-safety net (and ignore those in desperate poverty on their own soil) as long as private and parocial generosity makes up the gap. Not giving is harsh medicine that says the government of the richest country in the world can’t get away with pawning its responsibilities off on the private sector.”

As my father’s son, I am familiar with this argument.  It’s the same argument that says that if I stay out too late on Friday, I need to be woken especially early on Saturday so I can appreciate the error of my ways and learn in the future to be more time-aware and less late to bed.  Ask my friends how well that worked.

And in any case, showing compassion and charity to the victims does not mean we should or so absolve the U.S. government—or the citizens of Louisiana—for a shocking and long-building lack of social concern.  If you are looking to “teach the gov’t a lesson,” letters, faxes, protests, and changing your consumer habits are all ways to do so without also penalizing those who, let’s face it, probably didn’t vote for George Bush in the first place (note: I didn’t look up this fact, so ignore it if necessary).

5) Several people brought up Iraq to me specifically: If the U.S. can afford a war in Iraq, they can afford to help those in Louisiana.

Who said they could afford a war in Iraq? 😉  Besides, Sri Lanka was having a civil war and many Canadians sent donations there.  Does helping the victims mean you support the government? Nope.

6) Someone else posted in the fray on Darren’s site about Darfur, and how that country’s ongoing genocide is ignored while the U.S. gets all the ink.

I never said you shouldn’t support that crisis.  In the face of additional suffering, it behoves you to do additional giving.  I do wonder how many people have given to relief efforts in Darfur, or if it’s just a convenient counter-tragedy for argument’s sake.

7) Here’s another argument: Economically, donations wouldn’t have much effect and there’s unlikely to be a recession in the U.S.

In the medium term, he’s right, there’s a lot of economic stimulation caused by rebuilding. But I do know there’s no guarantee that the people directly hurt by this event will get back on their feet, even if the economy thrives.

8) Another friend said he was influenced by the inhumanity, looting and general mayhem of the aftermath, which made him feel less like donating.

On the other hand, doesn’t that merely magnify the inhumanity? Should those who have suffered at the hands of criminals now continue to suffer because we withhold aid?

For the record, and because several people asked, Susie and I gave to the U.S. Red Cross last week.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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