October 17, 2013
When Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, it was the most powerful tropical cyclone on record, with winds topping 195 mph. When the winds moved through the archipelago, from open to sea to sheltered bay, walls of water 20 feet high pushed onto land. Buildings splintered, the land flooded.
The result is a death toll estimated to be in excess of 10,000 and still rising.
Take a moment to soak that in. 10,000 people dead. Entire cities turned to rubble. The enormity of that. Currently, there isn’t the infrastructure necessary to rush the needed aid to the survivors or even clear the dead from littering the streets. They best those affected can do is cover their faces to mask the pervasive stench of decay. This is a gruesome, terrible tragedy and an urgent humanitarian crisis.
But as bad as it is, it’s not even the worst one of its kind in the last few years. The 2004 tsunami in Indonesia killed over 250,000 and conservative estimates of those killed in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti number over 200,000.
This is not to downplay the tragedy currently unfolding in the Philippines at all. It’s to underscore the fact that everyone, no matter who or where they are, needs to help. The sheer scale of these tragedies can’t solely be shouldered by those who were directly affected or those who are geographically nearby. It simply can’t be that way.
We can easily tune these tragedies out. Skim past the tweets, not read the enumerable articles, switch off the TV news reports. It’s simple. We can pretend that those affected, those currently walking the streets of Tacloban in a daze, desperately counting their dead and tending to their living, are so far away that we can’t do anything for them. But we also know this to be a convenient and ever-evaporating lie.
We can do good. It’s easy and it’s necessary. While technology is making it easier to stay abreast of tragedies as they unfold in real time, it’s also making it easier to help in real time.
The Red Cross is the fastest and single most reliable organization to get aid to those who desperately need it. As time ticks on, the lack of food and fresh water becomes an exponentially more dire situation. The more resources they have at their disposal, the quicker they can stem that rising tide.
Below is a link to donate, even if it’s a small amount. You can even text. If you are reading this, that means you have one or the other means at your disposal.
But beyond this particular tragedy and it’s particular set of horrifying circumstances, I implore you to always do whatever you can. We can read tweets and New York Times articles from our comfortable homes and places of work while sipping a coffee and have utter, genuine empathy for those affected. We are not soulless after all.
But we cope by blocking out. If we let it all in, the millions who have senselessly died from large scale natural disaster of the years and those who continue to suffer to this day, we’d be crippled with its enormity. Yet, we have to try and do just that: let it in. We must acknowledge that, from our privileged perches, we can do something. Anything. It’s the glib go-to, but if you went without your latte for the week and donated that money, it would go a long way. And so on.
So please, take a second and donate. Now and in the future. If millions of people around the world take it on as a personal mantle to do what they can, large or small, for those in these times of unimaginable need, it will help. As citizens of this world, we owe this much to each other.
Donate to the Red Cross HERE or Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.