A plea to CNN and other news organizations. Please stop focusing so heavily on things that the world’s citizens cannot hope to change but focus instead on giving us the information that can help us help the Japanese people. Help us to get to know these people, help us understand their suffering- the real humanitarian crisis, that has already happened. We are wasting so much precious time, these first few weeks are paramount. Help us help them… show us who they are and what they have suffered, not for the show effect, but so we feel compelled to help, so we feel we know them as neighbours hurting. Please reverse the ratio… Japanese people 80%, nuclear crisis 20%. And then you will not have to report that donations are low. CNN and other news outlets seem to be a big reason for the disparity between donations for Japan and other countries hit by tragedy. The reason? They have dropped the ball when it comes to covering the humanitarian side of the devastation. Yes they have been awesome in showing us a lot of great footage but as soon as the nuclear scare started the news organizations and seemingly CNN especially have been hammering the nuclear reactor scare over and over and now it seems very little in comparison is shown concerning these wounded and devastated people.
We, the viewers cannot hope to change the outcome of the nuclear crisis, but we can damn well help the Japanese people, given the right information and the right understanding of what they are going through. It is not just the overwhelming coverage of the nuclear crisis but also the language news is using to describe the Japanese people. When we tune in we are told the Japanese people are coping well, are managing. We, the viewers, end up feeling they don’t need our help. Absolutely- they are a beautifully stoic people, and absolutely- the nuclear crisis is a huge story, and yes, absolutely- the news agencies should be reporting it. However, they should not be reporting so heavily at the cost of losing the precious time they have inform the world of the Japanese people’s suffering.
If you lose those first few weeks you have lost, (sadly) the most responsive time for giving. Yes, Japan is doing the best they can, but I don’t believe the news audience is aware enough of how devastated that country is. That seems to be evident in the low amount of donations in comparison to the tragedy.
One of the CNN newscasters asked a reporter if the Japanese people were worried more about the nuclear fallout than the effects of the earthquake and tsunami…. and then asked the reporter in Japan whether those thoughts were weighing more heavily on their minds than the lack of food, lodging, and the destruction. Oh gosh, I hope he was just flustered, and couldn’t find the right question, but I was floored. The reporter in Japan did a good job at answering saying- there are two distinct tragedies going on- the nuclear disaster (which isn’t even a disaster yet, yes extremely worrying but not a disaster) and the humanitarian tragedy, which is a tragedy right now, and has already happened, and continues to worsen. However, I think he is wrong in saying there are two distinct crisis. For the Japanese people this is all one huge life altering, life destroying crisis. For gosh sakes, practically one quarter of their country is destroyed. Do you think the American people would appreciate Britain hammering on a story of nuclear scare, over stories that could help the world see how the the US was suffering…. hammering questions concerning the response of the government to the nuclear scare, in place of what is really needed… getting the message out that the US people were overwhelmed and it great need. This is what Japan’s people need right now, today, this minute! the need the world’s help desperately. (personally I think we should stop condemning until all facts are in, stop condemning in place of asking how the world can help.)
Yes some may say well Japan is not taking advantage of all the help offered, but that just isn’t true…there is just a lot of red tape to go through to facilitate it. And it is definitely not true when it comes to The RED CROSS… they almost always have immediate access in all humanitarian crisis. And if they are not on the ground the money that comes in from donations is paramount to the recovery and even more paramount to basic survival. It is winter in Japan, can you imagine how we would feel? We would be devastated and scared. To then put on top of that… freezing cold temperatures-meaning no heat at all even if you were lucky to have had a house remain unscathed from earthquake or tsunami, lack of food, and the overwhelming constant fear it could happen all over again because of never-ending aftershocks. Just because the Japanese people put on a stoic face does not mean they are not just as terrified of what will happen to them. You can bet we would be terrified, yet we are not donating nearly enough.
Yes this is a letter to the news agencies but it is also a letter to us, the world’s people. The news agencies have their responsibilities, but we have an even greater one… to look out for our neighbours on this earth. Instead, a lot of us are sitting back in our cozy little houses watching the TV saying, “aww that is so sad” which of course it is, but it is even sadder when we are watching the devastion and not doing anything to help. Even if CNN does not respond to this challenge of helping us understand how devastated Japan truly is, and even if they do not start reporting in a manner that helps us to understand the depths of our Japanese neighbour’s suffering, there is no reason for the low donations. I have very little money, but I know that given the reverse, Japan’s people would help us. I could not fathom, if my Vancouver Island was hit with the same disaster, the thought of the world not helping out as much as they could.(It is just a matter of time for Vancouver Island anyway, we live just beside a subduction zone.) I cannot believe that we in the world, knowing how large the earthquake was, and how utterly destructive the tsunami was, have donated so little in comparison to other large disasters. Therefore, I also cannot fathom why people are not helping Japan in record breaking numbers.
The only two reasons I can think we have donated so little is what I have said already- that people think Japan does not need much help because they are one of the wealthier countries like us. Seriously, I had hoped we were much smarter than that and again, if the shoe was on the other foot….I would sure hope the world would come to “my” aid. Of course the other reason, and the main reason for this letter is that news organizations are not reporting this humanitarian crisis as… a humanitarian crisis.
So please again I plead CNN and other news agencies around the world. Report this story…no I should say… tell us about these people… in a way that will help. Care about your neighbours, by forgetting the bottom line, forgetting about the numbers game and report in a way that will help us to care as well.
I wrote this poem below, and I believe it reflects what I am saying above.
There is a day when waking
we shed our swings of innocence
Picking up the tools of promise
we work to change the world.
PS… it is not the Japanese people’s fault there is a lot of red tape before aid can come into the country. You can bet that US and Canada would do the same. When a country has been ravaged so completely by disaster, the country cannot help but worry a country coming in will take advantage of its weakened state. It is upsetting to think we have become such a paranoid world that we cannot even let our neighbours help. But it is what it is… but we do not have to let that stop us from helping. Red tape does not mean the help will not get through. It just means it may take a little longer. Please do not let this stop you. If you wish you can donate directly to The Red Cross, or if you wish, you can donate to The Red Cross at- #PoetsForTsunamiRelief at http://www.heathergracestewart.com
please forgive the length and rambling way I wrote this. I did not wish to edit my thoughts. This is something that I have been increasingly upset by and I know others are as well. Thought perhaps it I should take my own advice and try to do something about it.
Stay safe, love each other, and please donate, but if you have already done so, just head on out into your own big beautiful world and show someone some caring and give them a big beautiful smile, you will warm someone’s world.