After the flood

No warning. That’s what’s truly astonishing, that the victims—140,000 dead as of this writing, and counting—of the tsunami that devastated countries on two continents had no warning, even though the earthquake that caused the wave happened hours earlier. Scientists as far away as Hawaii and Alaska knew what was about to hit India and Sri Lanka, but residents of those countries did not. That, in a nutshell, is the difference between poor and rich countries, between the have-nots and the haves.

There are lessons to be learned here—about the need for greater resource sharing, especially. And we are again reminded of the Earth’s power to cast all our petty human squabbles into sharp relief. But that doesn’t begin to diminish the sadness we feel from knowing that so much pain is being felt right now. We cannot do it justice. Television news programs segue from scenes of drowned children being washed ashore to sports highlights, and we struggle to process the surreal nature of our media world.

It’s better just to do something. Especially now. Contributions to bring relief to victims of natural catastrophes usually wane as the weeks go by and the media coverage lessens. Let’s not let that happen this time. Here are the addresses of reputable agencies now working to stop the spread of disease and rebuild communities. Help your brothers and sisters. Send a check. If you’ve already done so, consider sending another.

American Buddhist Seminary, 423 Glide Ave., West Sacramento, CA 95691;

American Red Cross, International Response Fund, PO Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013; (800) HELP-NOW;

Doctors Without Borders, PO Box 2247, New York, NY 10116-2247; (888) 392-0392;

International Medical Corps, 11500 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 506, Los Angeles, CA 90064; (800) 481-4462;

Matsui farewell

Like most of the citizens of this region, we were stunned and saddened by the death U.S. Representative Robert Matsui at the age of 63. A Sacramento native who was sent to a World War II internment camp just a few months after he was born, Matsui grew up to become one of the most influential Japanese-Americans in U.S. history. A Democrat who served 26 years in Congress, his life’s great achievement was orchestrating a formal apology and cash reparations for the Japanese-Americans so wrongfully interned in his youth.

Certainly, we at SN&R had our disagreements with Matsui. He was a moderate politician, famous for not rocking the boat. Still, we were impressed with his lifelong devotion to civil rights and his vocal opposition, this past year, to the unjust war in Iraq. The country—and our region—will miss him dearly.