Monday, January 10, 2005

a History Lesson


History says that if we do not learn from it the first time, we are doomed to repeat it. I remembered that phrase while watching the public fundraising for tsunami survivors in Southeast Asia. Yes, they need money. And no question, they could use help in rebuilding. One conundrum: how do aid groups get what they need? Answer: the media. One irony: when people donate, it tends not to make news. Except when one happens to be a celebrity to begin with. Why are these large donations splashed across television segments for all to see? I only ask because what seems like a generous outpouring of support is pocket change to donators. Someone who makes several million dollars taking roles in movies has no problem handing over one million to charity. And yet, "Sandra Bullock gives $1, 000,000 to Red Cross!" is newsworthy. What really caught my attention was the live fundraiser airing on several cable stations where celebrities join to ask people to give. Wait a minute. Does 9/11 ring a bell? Someone once astutely pointed out that if those same celebrities had donated out of their own pockets, the telethon would not have been needed. I'm not criticizing the ability of celebrities to bring more attention to a cause than the ordinary citizen; just wondering whether the attention is always warranted.

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