Why Are We Not Giving to the Japan Disaster?

We’ve all seen the pictures of the huge waves engulfing Japan, the fires and families wandering up the streets with nothing but plastic bags. But in truth, I wonder if the biggest news is the potential damage from the nuclear reactors.

Why has the struggle of this nation failed to grip our conscience? Consider Haiti:

  • two days after the disaster, Americans had texted more than $5 million in donations to the Red Cross
  • in five days, more than $92 million had been given to the same agency
  • Hollywood got into the act and just 10 days after the fact raised $57 million in a telethon

There’s a lot more that could be said about the outpouring of relief to Haiti, but you get the idea.

On the other hand, Japan has not prompted such an outpouring. Hollywood is having no telethon. The only significant Hollywood contribution has been from Sandra Bullock.

The newswires tell us that generally people don’t feel sympathy for Japan. They are an able bodied nation who can fend for themselves. And where they cannot, there is a belief that the Japanese government will step in (notwithstanding that Japan has one of the highest debt to GDP ratios of any country in the world).

So here’s the question: does our generosity depend on our view of need? Or does our generosity start with compassion? Are we less moved to give because we think there is a government lifeline?

I wonder if in the days to come, and when more disasters come, if we’ll find that our generosity remains framed in this view.

William High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Foundation. Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity. He may be reached at whigh@servantchristian.com.

Posted in For Givers. Tags: . 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Why Are We Not Giving to the Japan Disaster?”

  1. Warren Kittler Says:

    Your questions at the end are making me think…what drives my generosity?

  2. Pastor Jack Wilson Says:

    Let me throw another place into the mix. The Payatas in the Philippines where I serve was one of the places that were hurt by the typhoon Ondoy in Sept of 2009.
    Here is a place of corruption and greed. However there was no outpouring of aid for us either. Hundreds of thousands lost the very feeble shacks that they lived in. So many casualties yet not once was I or other Pastor’s that I know, were contacted to help with relief efforts.
    Go figure.

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