Why you should donate, but maybe not to Japan
People want to help.
Well, okay, not everyone wants to help. Some people are jerks.
Despite my skeptical (some would say cynical) view of human nature acquired after working a quarter century as a journalist, I find that most people actually do want to assist when they see someone suffering.
Wanting to help is how many of us are reacting to the news out of Japan following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami — now made even more terrible by the possible (though often exaggerated) threat of a major nuclear accident.
Still, it’s important to note that wanting to help, and actually helping, are not the same thing.
As terrible and massive as the disaster in Japan has turned out to be, it is still not clear if there is a large role for outside humanitarian organizations to play when it comes to offering assistance. Yet many organizations say they are helping out and are asking for (or at least accepting) donations to help Japan.
On Wednesday, I posted a guest column from an aid worker who called this an “ugly game” — the game of seeking donations based on the emotional response many have to the intense news coverage of Japan’s plight. Others, like Felix Salmon at Reuters, and Saundra Schimmelpfennig at Good Intentions are Not Enough, have similarly urged people to think twice before donating to a charitable organization based on the disaster in Japan.
ALSO BY TOM PAULSON
- Can Seattle Save the World?
- Disaster in Japan … and Haiti, Pakistan, Congo, Ivory Coast, Niger, Mali