"You mock my pain!"
"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."
The Princess Bride
"It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms." A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift.
Why should I care about the tsunami victims? What are we up to now, 150,000 dead? Probably twice that number homeless? And I'm supposed to feel what? Sorrow? Compassion? I should be making a big financial contribution, you say? Why, pray tell, should I get involved?
Aren't tsunamis just Nature's way of solving over-population? Haven't we been told for decades that there are too many of us and that we are rapidly depleting our planet's resources? If 150,000 people drown and another 300,000 starve to death, shouldn't we see this (I believe in silver-linings) as a really good day for the Responsible Management of Our Fragile Earth?
I suppose leaving so many people to suffer is inhumane. Says who? And isn't "being humane" a frightfully speciesist concept? Do we humans really suppose we have a corner on virtue? (And didn't virtue go out with whalebone corsets?)
For the past century, evolutionary biologists have been happily indoctrinating us to believe that we are no different from the (other) animals. 99% of our DNA is the same stuff found in tapeworms. If we're animals, shouldn't we act like animals?
The crocodiles, apparently unconcerned with the global reputation of their species, are busy attacking the survivors. The elephants and other purportedly intelligent mammals fled before the waves even hit, without lifting a trunk to warn their human brothers and sisters.
If the noble beasts are only interested in looking out for themselves, why should we be any different?
And don't get me started on the dolphins and whales. These allegedly brilliant and sensitive creatures live in the sea, for crying out loud. They were the first to hear the earthquake, the first to sense the swelling of the ocean. Did anyone report pods of whales swimming to shore to warn humans that a disaster was approaching? Where were the dolphins, those masterful swimmers, when so many people were carried on the currents and drowned?
Darwin was rightlife is all about the survival of the fittest. Those who could swim lived. Those who built strong houses lived. Those who ran the fastest lived. The weak are selected for extinction, the strong get to pass along their genetic material to the next generation. Brutal, yes, but it's a system that's worked for millions of years. You think the Red Cross is somehow going to reverse the Laws of Nature?
We both know there is no God (and what kind of God allows his children to be swallowed by a tsunami, anyway?). Don't be laying platitudes on me, like: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Sunday school hogwash. Don't be cooing that we're all part of some kind of lovey-dovey brotherhood of mankind. Jackie Chan, the martial arts movie star, is jump-starting the We Are The World campaign, hoping to bring us all together in love, peace and solidarity with the victims. Gag me.
If I give my hard-earned money to World Vision's Tsunami Relief Fund, and next month I get laid off and can't pay my bills, is Jackie Chan going to do a benefit concert for me? Not frigging likely.
What's in it for me? That's the bottom line. If I help these people, what's my payback?
I'll feel better about myself? Drugs are cheaper and the high lasts longer. I'll get some kind of reward in the hereafter? You probably still believe in the tooth fairy, don't you? I'll make the world a better place? Yeah, right. When that young thug comes to steal my Lexus, I'll just tell him that I contributed generously to the tsunami victims, we'll have a good cry together and he won't shoot me and run me over with my own car.
Here's my modest proposal for a post-modern, dog-eat-dog, watch-out-for-number-one, God-is-dead world: take the money you would have spent on tsunami relief and invest it in a better security system; sell the house on the beach; buy a bigger plasma screen; dump the brunette and trade up to a blonde; open a fine bottle of wine and enjoy life. While you can.