In our opinion: Give

It may seem callous to ask yourself whether donating to relief missions in Japan is the best use of your charity dollars. It isn’t callous, but that is not to say it is an easy question.

It helps to keep in mind that people make these kinds of decisions all the time: A dollar given to a civic group is a dollar withheld from a conservation nonprofit. A dollar given to ease suffering on another continent is a dollar not helping a person in need down the street. And especially during such a precarious economic period, each dollar matters that much more.

Japan, after all, is not Haiti, which suffered a devastating earthquake last year, nor is it South Asia, where a tsunami killed 230,000 in 2004. These are places where people die of malnutrition, where the suffering of the poor doesn’t ease in the lull between disasters. Japan is a healthy, educated nation. With the third-largest economy in the world, Japan is one of the most technologically savvy places on earth.

These facts may lead one to believe Japan can help itself, but perhaps there is more light to be shed on the matter.

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the people of Japan gave $17 million to the American Red Cross, according to a spokeswoman.

Following Hurricane Katrina’s rampage through the Gulf of Mexico in August, 2005, the people of Japan gave the American Red Cross $12 million.

It says something that so many people felt compelled to help our citizens, who live in the world’s largest economy, when we needed the help.

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