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Fred's Views


Giving 'til it Hurts

I think it is wonderful to see how North Americans and the world have rallied behind those who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 tragedies. I'm glad that our care and compassion still burns, as does the rubble, a month later. So please forgive me if I make a few comments that might seem inappropriate.

I've been thinking about all the fund raising that has been going on for the victims and rescuer-victims of this tragedy. Certainly, the dependents of these victims deserve to be taken care of and provided for. And it is wonderful to see so many world citizens united in a just cause. But I hope it won't end with the families of the victims.

One would hope that most of the employees centered in the World Trade Center Towers (and, to a lesser extent, the Pentagon) would be in a position where they would have both the knowledge and the resources to provide adequately for their loved ones in the event of an accident. Some, of course, the ones who do most of the work and keep the offices running, but receive the lowest compensation, may not have had the resources, but most of the others should have had. And while no amount of money can ever compensate for such a loss, many of these employees should have left their families with adequate cash resources. To a lesser extent, the rescue workers' families should also have been left with some financial compensation. I'm not saying that our money-raising efforts are unnecessary, but I am suggesting that there is at least the possibility that at some point, perhaps soon, their financial needs may be met.

When that happens, should we stop raising money? No! There are and there will be many other "victims" that are in need of our care and donations. One of the reasons the United States is under attack and the object of hatred is that it was seen as abandoning the Afghanistans twenty years ago. Officially, or so I am led to believe, the United States government left these people to their own devices. That was a mistake. Now that the United States and its allies have begun attacks on selected targets in Afghanistan it is inevitable that many people in this poor country will be attempting to stay alive in ever worsening conditions. They are going to need our help. And they deserve our help. The only long-term solution to terrorism or whatever might replace it, is to end the causes of terrorism. Beyond the obvious, that terrorists are at least slightly mad, lie more significant roots: poverty, famine, disease, helplessness. Some acts of terrorism will not end until reasonable people make reasonable compromises such as in Palestine and Ireland. But other terrorists stand to lose their power base if we address the underlying causes adequately.

It was good to see that the food and flowers intended for the twice-cancelled Emmies were still put to good use. But I'd like to suggest taking things a bit further: Why not make all awards shows for the next year or so completely informal. Ask the stars, producers, directors, etc. to come in the same clothes they wear when they are relaxing at home. Provide nutritious, appetizing but inexpensive food and leave out all ostentatious and frivolous expenditures. Then ask that the entertainers contribute an amount equal to what they would have spent on hair stylists, manicures, wardrobe, etc. to a worthy charity. Besides, is there anything sexier than a beautiful woman in a snug fitting pair of jeans?

I hope that those who have been so generous with their time and money so far, will continue the fight. Let's hope that they will continue to inspire the rest of us to give a little so that the have-nots of our world can be a little better off. I would also like to challenge a completely different sector of our economy: Companies like Microsoft have been hard hit over this past year or so, but Microsoft, at least, is still very, very well off, financially. If it must sell the upgrade to its new XP operating system at an inflated price such as $150 Canadian, a price that will inspire pirates everywhere, then at least publicly announce that a good portion of this price will go to fight world hunger, or disease, or some other great cause.

And while we go about the great task of raising money to help those less fortunate than ourselves, let us not forget the unfortunates in our own back yard. And let us also remember some of the perhaps trite sounding slogans that, nevertheless, convey some great truths:

The less fortunate need a hand up, not a hand-out

Give a man a fish and he will have food for a day, teach a man to fish, and he will have food every day.

Nothing makes a person more contented than a full belly and a roof over his head.

Thanks for listening.

Copyright © 2001 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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