Monday, December 2, 2013

Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Over the weekend I was greeted with headlines of Black Friday violence; parking lot stabbings, retail worker beatings, and strangers fighting over material goods, all in the name of the holiday "spirit." Under any circumstance this type of behavior is appalling but when set against the backdrop of the last few months of disasters, it takes on a new dimension of materialism and sadness. And while the rest of the world goes about their business giving little thought to the flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes we experience, a similar sentiment seems to permeate our attitudes about the things happening outside our boarders.

According to a Pew Research survey, Typhoon Yolanda has drawn less interest from the American public than previous disasters and as such is making the generation of donations difficult. The Haiti Earthquake, Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami all garnered greater attention and donations than Typhoon Yolanda did in the first weeks following the event. With the understanding that there is never a good time for a disaster to strike, and that there will always be competition for attention in our news cycles, one would think that the build up and subsequent aftermath of an event of the magnitude that struck the Philippines would demand significant attention and support, but that perception isn't matching reality. Why?

Are we fatigued? Are we tired of hearing about the misery caused by so many storms of increasing strength and frequency? If all the reports on climate change prove to be accurate, then the scenario that's unfolding in the Philippines is the tip of the iceberg. With added international pressure to address the impacts of our new climate reality seemingly falling on deaf ears, what will an increase in severe weather events mean on our ability to cope with them? The general trend is that fewer people are being killed in storms of increasing magnitude, but the economic impacts are skyrocketing because of the push to develop areas that remain vulnerable. So the fallout requiring financial support is increasing, while the ability for us to handle it and empathize comes into question.

Haiti is but a distant memory for most, almost 4 years later and the light that shined on the corruption and bureaucracy that strangled aid from making an impact has faded, and while I wish it were different, that's the reality. The Philippines have weathered a significant country-changing event. It is far too soon to let it slip between the cracks of black friday and cyber monday sales. This is a time of year for reflection and giving of thanks for the friends and family we have...please don't forget about those who have lost everything as a result of something beyond their control. Understand that the work of recovery is slow, requiring time, attention, and money, fickle things that are affected by outside influences, especially at this time of year.

While there are needs within our boarders, individuals and families who are dealing with disasters of their own...remember that for many, either at home or abroad, the luxury of 'want' will be overshadowed by the reality of 'need' for some time to come. For those of you out there working to aid in the recovery of impacted communities, thank you. Your tireless efforts are needed and appreciated. And for the rest of us who have to sit on the sidelines, please don't let the events that have impacted lives in: Illinois, Indiana, Syria, the Sahel, DRC, CAR, the Philippines, India, Colorado, or any other community around the world be overtaken by the glut of sales and holiday weirdness that grips our country every year.

1 comment :

  1. Wow. Great stuff Jeremy. Super thought provoking and motivating. Thanks dude!