The international community has pledged over $3 billion to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami disaster that hit Southern Asia and parts of Africa. In a list of over 45 countries, the biggest contributors so far are Australia ($810 million), Germany ($680 million) and the United States. ($350 million).
Since the disaster, we have been bombarded by the media with their single-, double- or triple-digit figures that each country has contributed to the relief effort so far.
They eagerly announce a country’s recent donation or increase in aid to the relief effort as if it is some kind of contest for who can donate the most money, with the grand prize of improving their country’s image in the international community.
Jan Egeland’s ‘the rich countries are stingy’ statement, with a little help from the media, started this unofficial donation competition between the richest countries.
Each country, it seems, is trying to outdo the other by donating more and more money. After all, which country would want to be known as the stingy one?
We are not criticizing governments for their generosity. Rather, we are questioning why it is necessary to have an atmosphere of competition between countries in the first place.
When church-goers get that basket and put their donation money in it, they don’t do it for the prize they will recieve in the end for donating the most money. They do it, ideally, out of the kindness of their hearts.
Similarly, in an ideal world, governments will donate as much money as they can not because some U.N. emergency-relief coordinator told them that they were being stingy, but because they feel they have a moral obligation to help out their fellow man. The relief effort remains to be just that