Sunday, January 23, 2005

Absences and Disasters

Well, after a crazy end of semester, a thoroughly busy-yet-enjoyable Christmas season, and the beginning of a new semester, I have returned to the world of blogging. Please, hold your applause.

A lot has happened in the news in the last few months. Probably too much for me to even try to catch up on it. There isn't really anything you could get from me that you wouldn't have gotten reading some other conservative/religious blog (and, really, why aren't you reading any of those?).

But while I'm here, I would like to add a few insights on the tsunami disaster over in Asia.

First, I'd like to say that I'm proud to be an American. Why? Because when that disaster struck, Americans began pouring out their money and their time to help the people affected by it. In fact, they still are. Money continues to pour into those regions affected by the tsunami, and aid workers seem to toil endlessly for those people (although I've read that some of the countries want all foreigners out by sometime in March). I've seen some stories about people abusing the chance to aid the less fortunate, but overall I think this has been a positive sign that humanity isn't a totally lost cause.

That being said, I find the comments of some cranks (in both the media and in our government) to be absolutely ridiculous. Some have complained that we are not spending enough on helping these people. Others are making the comparison of $3 billion in aid to Florida for the hurricane damage, while the government pledged only $150 million to help (those are old numbers, back from only a short while after the tsunami hit, but I'm sure the current figure is still far below $3 billion). Some have even commented that it is ridiculous for the Bush administration to spend $40 million on inaugural festivities when the money could be used for tsunami relief.

Let's tackle the last challenge first. Either Jim Gerraghty or Hugh Hewitt (I can't recall which one, at the moment) like to point out that, for most of those who attended the inaugural festivities, their private donations to tsunami relief efforts far exceed $40 million. So, let's not take this as a sign of overindulgence on the part of the Bush administration and friends. Next, there is always going to be some disaster or another to spend money on. There are still starving people on every continent. This does not make it wrong for us to celebrate. Celebration in lieu of helping others is one thing, but there is no reason we cannot do both. Finally, people who ask this question have not asked the same of other celebrations in our country. What about the numerous Hollywood celebrations, such as the Emmy's, Golden Globes, Oscars, Academy Awards, etc.? Will those events be cancelled, and all proceeds given to charitable organizations? I guarantee they won't, and yet the town criers will say nary a word. So, is what's good for the goose good for the gander? Or is the charge just another way of picking at the Bush administration?

Finally, I'd like to tackle the comparisons to Florida. $3B vs. $150M is a big difference, truly. But I would contend that the US government has a much higher obligation to help out American citizens than it does to help foreign citizens. Does that make sense? Why should the US government pay to rebuild one disaster halfway across the globe when it hasn't yet finished paying to rebuild the disaster in its own back yard?

Oh, that's right. Some of you may not realize it, but the hurricane mess in Florida has yet to be fully cleaned up.

Isn't that amazing? Apparently, $3B has gone into Florida, and there is still work to do. This blows my mind. But let's look at this and try to learn something: We are remiss if we put all this time and effort into helping people in another part of the world but will not even help our own neighbors.

Several of the BCMers went on a mission trip to Florida over New Years to help a church with the cleanup. The tale of First Baptist Fort Ogden is incredible. The church has become, essentially, the community center. People slept there when they had no home to return to. Food, clothing, and personal supplies are constantly distributed there. And the community of the church has spent nearly this entire time helping to clean up and repair the damage, but not for themselves, only for the community. They have said, when the community is repaired, then they can take care of themselves. They even found the opportunity in their to take up an offering for the tsunami victims. Those are the details that I can remember as they were told to me.

Wow. That is what a Christian community is supposed to be like. That is what we should strive to show. That is the kind of charity that is needed in this country. Not to say that America shouldn't help those who were affected by the tsunami. But I think it is a travesty that we haven't even cleaned up our own soil so many months later. But people like the members of FBFO show us what kind of good can come out of all of that.

Well, that's it for now. Welcome back to the blog. I hope you'll be back for more this semester. I know I will be.