As the aftermath of the tsunami continues to play out, Stalin's famous quote about a million deaths being a statistic while a single death is a tragedy couldn't be more true. The over-riding sentiment that seems to be attached to most stories is the rankist element that is part of any comment on individual or government sponsored contributions to the relief effort. There are also the accompanying desperate efforts to conjure up language that will express the feelings of shared grief but they just seem to...fall a bit flat.
What is tangible are the insinuations and outright scolding heaped on various nations and entertainment and sports superstars who haven't ponied up what is perceived to be an adequate amount. Those assertions crackle, are real, are something we can really associate with.
The one-upsmanship from various governments around the world can't help but be beneficial as the real amount of aid continues to increase. A closer look reveals that many strings are attached to various pledges. These dazzling promises and high figures may in part be based on low-interest loans and might well not materialize in full.
Donations made by various stars and duly advertised may also have ulterior motives, including an enhanced public image. Again, if the end result is more assistance, then it's great to see every overpaid thespian and steroid bloated pro athlete run scurrying to make a donation prior to their next interview so they can let the true figure roll off their tongue in a nonchalant way and appear genuinely moved.
Woe is the fool like Paradorn Srichiphan, a wealthy Thai tennis star, who made such a pathetically sniveling donation (10, 000 baht , about 250 US dollars) in comparison to his earnings, that he will most certainly pay for it in a real monetary way. The 10, 000 dollars US he could have easily given will be eclipsed by the income loss he is sure to suffer as a result of this huge PR disaster.