The Foolish Man Built His House

Remember that old Sunday school song? “And the rains came down and the floods came up.”

Well, apparently there are about 80 million fools who’ve decided to build homes in just about the most geographically disaster prone area in the world. Hurricane Katrina? We call that “September”

Dams exploding, cars all floating, and the Secretary of National Defense announcing on international television that all the local government can do is just say “sorry, we’ll try and do better next time.” Next time, he says! Meanwhile, the aptly named Mrs Arroyo (arroyo – n., a dry river bed that suddenly fills up with water after heavy rains) had a 30 second clip of her with a blank, listless stare broadcast on Chinese television.

Seriously, the good people of the Philippines deserve better than this, and for better or for worse the only way that things can improve is through the actions of private citizens and action groups. Church volunteers and corporate sponsors have already helped more people, more efficiently than the government has – and while it’s sad that Filipinos always have to wait for such a calamity before pitching in and doing public service, it’s also encouraging to see their speedy work and fast reaction time in helping those who are now homeless and destitute.

All the video coverage is probably not making things any better for the 3rd World but it’s good to know that while our institutions may not be the best in the world, our spontaneous markets for human kindness and charitable donations still work. It’s a foolish man who would place all his bets on governments and policies; sometimes you just have to believe in other people’s capacity to not leave you high and dry. Or in this case, drowning.

If you would like to donate and pitch in yourself, please go to the Philippine Red Cross Website.

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Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many people in the developing world, usually women and children, walk more than three hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Those hours are crucial, preventing many from working or attending school.

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