Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'm Feeling Philanthropic

I guess by now we've all seen the pictures coming out of New Orleans, which is essentially the world's largest and most polluted swimming pool right now, not to mention Mississippi and Alabama. People are saying things like how the damage is "shocking" or "incredible," and the truth is that it's not. Nature is very big and powerful and totally indifferent to us. That's why most of the people living down along the Gulf Coast got the hell out of there before the storm hit. And I kind of feel bad for the folks who died when Katrina blew the roofs they were taking refuge on into the marshland, but as someone who used to hide out in our basement when it was partly cloudy outside, I'm not really sure what the hell they were doing there.

Nonetheless, the pictures of the hurricane damage and the subsequent levee breaches clearly got to me and even though I normally wouldn't give a Louisiana redneck the time of day, I made a donation to the Red Cross. It'll be good for my karma. I kind of believed I was too misanthropic to think that since my house is currently in fewer than a thousand pieces and hasn't morphed into an aquarium, I ought to do something for the people stuck in that toxic swamp. Although I have to say that I feel kind of, um... guilty. It was only eight months ago when CNN brought us pretty much the exact same images of flattened and submerged towns, only this time it was on the other side of the world and the people had some strange skin affliction that could best be described as "not being Caucasian," and I thought: That's awful, but what am I supposed to be doing about it?

I guess in all fairness, at that time, I didn't exactly have a job that paid anything, and after spending my salary on bus fare, lunch, and taxes, there really wasn't much left to help rebuild the tourist industry on the Maldives.

So I'm probably the only person in the world who can feel liberal guilt for donating to charity, but thankfully I'll always have the pleasure of knowing that I could always be worse. There's Frequently Asked Questions on the Red Cross's website, and one of the questions is, seriously, "Can I cancel a donation?" I hope I never meet the heartless bastard who clicks that link, waving money in front of the Red Cross and then taking it back. Jackass.