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From: Keith (
Subject: Re: imagine
Date: January 22, 2005 at 9:31 am PST

In Reply to: imagine posted by Surya on January 21, 2005 at 2:32 pm:

Are you suggesting that I was in some way minimizing the suffering caused by the tsunami? I don't think I did, and that was certainly not my intention. Of course it was a great tragedy and those affected suffer greatly.

Mostly, I was addressing EC's suggestion that this was a portent of the end of the world. Also, I was suggesting that people tend to minimize the seriousness of problems that they feel powerless to control.

People reacted strongly to 9/11 partly because it was a local problem in North America, but mostly because they believed it should have been preventable. No one thinks a tsunami is preventable, so what is there to discuss? There was a huge outpouring of assistance to areas affected by the tsunami, but it is easier to give resources to a one-time cause than to an ongoing problem, regardless of the relative severity of each.

It bothers me that few people or nations give assistance for fighting the AIDS pandemic or starvation or literacy or clean water simply because they are too big to comprehend and they don't make the news. A tsunami is easier to understand because there are dramatic pictures on TV and because the damage will soon be repaired and it can be put out of mind.


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