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Opinion: Doing something about tragedy

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Often in times of troubling news, people struggle to come to terms with the significance of a tragedy. So as word continually streams in from southeast Asia about Typhoon Haiyan, it is disconcerting to hear, but hard to react to.

Quite often, the tiny voice whispers something to the tune of, “What does my vote matter?” or “What can my small contribution do?” Individually, this is not an absurd thought process. But when it becomes a part of the collective conscience of a people, it becomes troublesome.

Humans inherently are not moved to action unless they are made to think that they can make a difference. This may sound over-generalized, but it is part of the very socialized surroundings that most humans inhabit.

There is no doubting the abundance of compassion and empathy with which some people act within the world today. These people do many things on this earth to help others. At the same time, there are many who do care but do not know quite how to react or provide aid. Yes, one can argue that it is as simple as calling up the local Red Cross and providing “X” amount of dollars from a MasterCard. At the same time, there are gripes that some people have with the religious affiliation that such charities possess.

This is a gripe that is concerning—that some choose not to donate charity or provide aid for the sole reason that they do not like a charity’s religious affiliation. This is not to say that an individual cannot be against donating to a particular religious charity. Maybe the way in which the organization distributes their money is unjust. Maybe an inordinate amount of money goes to higher-ups and administrators within such organizations. Maybe the organization has a history of discriminating against certain groups, like LGBT constituents.

So do research. Try to find the organizations that will funnel the money directly to those in need. Websites like this can help along the way. CBS has also compiled a list.

It is easy to come across as compassionate and caring, or pretend to be so, but what do most people do besides send out a tweet or Facebook status to help people? People who claim that they have “raised awareness” and that is their contribution are somewhat full of it. Publicity helps, but a call to action is often warranted. Everyone is a little guilty of just moving on with their lives, the guy who wrote this column included.

Just do a little research. Find effective ways to help and contribute when disaster strikes. A tiny contribution may be insignificant to the person who supplied it, but collectively, it benefits everyone when groups band together to give aid. Aiding the pain is necessary. Building those that are broken down is a tenuous process that is aided exponentially each time someone does something to help. The idea is not that not giving makes you bad, but do not feel as if you cannot make a difference. Keep that in mind for a rainy day.

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