When Hurricane Katrina washed New Orleans into the Gulf of Mexico, I, like many others, was saddened and distressed. I could not fathom the destruction of a great and beautiful city, the deaths and displacement of so many people. It was not the worst natural tragedy of even recent memory - the horrible tsunami of last winter killed three or four orders of magnitude more people and displaced millions. Still, it shocked me deeply, and (as I had done after the tsunami) I rushed to donate to a relief fund.
Now, this week, I've been reading increasingly horrifying accounts of the earthquake that has killed as many as 35,000 people in Pakistan and India. Once again an entire region has been leveled. Only rubble and ruins remain where just a few days ago there were vibrant towns and villages.
If there's anything that can put into perspective my own daily struggles, it is trying to imagine myself in the shoes of someone whose entire town has just been wiped off the face of the planet. I know that remote mountain villages in Kashmir don't strike the same emotional chord in most Americans as Bourbon Street or the French Quarter, but to the people whose homes and families villages are destroyed the horror is the same.
Please consider contributing to one of the earthquake relief funds that are beginning to take shape. I gave to Oxfam, which is already providing tens of thousands of tents and blankets to displaced earthquake victims. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is also beginning to provide services in the area. Other organizations are soon to follow - I'll add more links as I find them.