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crisis of the moment, or long-term engagement?
Jon says "I Need Some Help in understanding very clearly why "the world" is rushing to aid the surviving victims of the tsunami so enthusiastically (not that we shouldn't) when there are also thousands and thousands of Iraqis suffering and dying through no fault of their own in the face of a persistent "tsunami" of occupation."

Tom goes further in his analysis:
It is certainly heartwarming to see the recent response from around the world regarding the Asian Tsunami tragedy. Google lists about 2,000 current news stories on the event, with estimates of 150,000 deaths and several billions in support.

This intense interest, however, will soon fade, and a new one will surely emerge to take its place. This "Spotlight Effect" has several side effects:
  • It creates an overwhelming spike in resources and attention, possibly away from other deserving causes
  • As the spotlight fades, and the "long haul" costs of recovery begin to kick in, resources are likely to be short.
  • It conditions us to react to short term emergencies, at the expense of long term, continuous efforts.
  • It may draw resources from other causes. An "I gave for the tsunami" attitude could diminish a donor's gifts to other programs.
As tragic as the death count was in the tsunami, it represents about three weeks' worth of HIV/AIDS deaths. The Global Fund is struggling to collect $15 billion for an epidemic whose current and future effects are staggering.

December 1st was World HIV/AIDS day, an attempt to generate attention for this issue. It barely made the press. However, a jet crash which killed 2 people got the spotlight that day, collecting 750 articles on Google.

So, while the spotlight is on the tsunami, there are many, many other needs in the world which are less mediagenic, but possibly more important.

So, what can we do to diffuse this spike of attention to a longer term, more effectively allocated flow of resources?

My question here is not about "the world" or "the media" but for you (this is a silent, answer-to-yourself question). What are you doing in your daily life to reduce human suffering among those around you?

And then I found Michael's post on The Physics of Tsunami Giving where he concludes: "The opportunity now is that when the wave of tsunami news and giving and action subsides, there will be some excess capability that can be directed toward other needs, closer to home perhaps, where little individuals can keep on making contributions to the common good."

Good stuff.