Is it really sufficient to give what we could spare?
October 15, 2005
Recently, as more bad news arrives from around the world, I wonder when enough is considered enough. As if the recent wars weren’t enough, the world had to witness the earthquake of Bam, the tsunami in Asia and later the devastating storm of New Orleans. It shocked me to hear the reaction of a friend the morning of the earthquake in Pakistan, “Only 1,700 were killed.”
Now the official number of victims has escalated to 38,000, people have started to pay more attention, but unfortunately only a little more. It is as if the numerous disasters we have witnessed have desensitized us against bad news. When the twin towers tumbled and the reports of a few thousand victims were broadcast, we were all shocked as if the world had come to an end, but now when they report over thirty thousand dead in Pakistan alone, we switch the channels on our TV set, in search of a distraction.
“I can’t watch this any more,” a woman said. “Last night, the images stayed with me all night, making it impossible to sleep.”
That’s all understandable. People need to rest, save their energy and go to work in the morning. But what about them?
Indeed, I’ve had my share of sleeplessness, too. All night I tried to imagine how it felt to have worked all my life, saved and finally put a roof over my family’s head just to see it tumble down and kill everyone I ever cared for. What is it like to have no future, no assets, and no family? How does one face a cold winter without a cover, limping, dragging an untreated broken leg and without a penny to buy a cup of tea? Having lived years of a dignified life, how does one begin to learn begging?
True, we are only human and need to hang on to our dreams of better things and, yes, we can only go so far or do so much. But how do we set those limits and who is to determine when enough has been done? Is it really sufficient to give what we could spare? Or, is it possible that we might expect a little more generosity if the situations were reversed?
I try not to think of God’s power and how easy it would be for Him to heal the survivors and provide them with comfort. It isn’t my place to question disasters and why a Muslim nation, in a town called Islamabad and during the month of Ramadan had to endure such a tragedy. Besides, each time I’ve asked such questions in the past, I heard the same old answer, “It’s a test!” Nonreligious as I may be, I have too much respect to say anything that could be misconstrued as “Kofr.” I tell myself there has to be a better place beyond this life, that’s why God takes the good, the poor and needy so fast and in such astronomical numbers. Then again, maybe this is a test. Maybe God wants to see how far we would go to help our own kind.
The questions are far too many, it’s a long night and I feel as if voices beyond the oceans call my name. In the morning, while writing a check to contribute, I’m conscious of the fact that I could do more. But I, too, am only human. I save enough to shop, eat, and have fun.
Fun? How strange the word sounds. I wonder how long it will be for the victims of the recent earthquake before they could even think about such words.
The following is a list of a few reputable agencies with offices in USA and US Tax ID #'s provided courtesy of Dr. Rashid Chotani, the JHGMSA faculty advisor. These agencies are working both in immediate relief and later in the rebuilding process; they are primarily looking for monetary donations at this time.
1. EDHI Foundation
42-07 National street
Corona, New York, 11368
TAX ID # 11-301369
2. ISLAMIC RELIEF USA
1919 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91506
1 (888) 479-4968
Tax ID #: 95-4453134
3. Human Development Fund
1350 Remington Road, Suite W,
Schaumburg, Il. 60173
TAX ID 36-4184940
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a retired dentist and a freelance
writer. She lives in San Diego, California. Her latest book is "Sharik-e
Gham" (see excerpt).
Visit her site ZoesWordGarden.com