November 13, 2013 — Forty-three years ago today, on November 13, 1970, a 150-mph tropical cyclone hit the Ganges Delta area of Bangladesh, killing an estimated 500,000 people. The tragedy is the 20th century’s worst natural disaster.
Today, the people in the Philippines are suffering a similar fate, with a possible 10,000+ casualties from one of the most devastating typhoons on record, which struck the island nation last week.
From the cyclone in Bangladesh, to the typhoon in the Philippines, and every disaster in between, when tragedy strikes, the power of human kindness emerges. We come together to offer assistance, whether by making donations through ourselves or our government, by volunteering in the devastated community, or by doing whatever we can to help those suffering. We overlook differences in race, religion or anything else that might separate us because our common bond is the same – we all want to protect and provide for the people we love.
With Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, for example, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and the civil wars in the Middle East, we do what we can by supporting various relief efforts, such as benefit concerts, The Red Cross, and The Salvation Army, to name a few. We also sent in groups of volunteers to help rebuild communities and get people back on their feet.
As Americans, we sometimes receive poor reputations around the world for the choices that our government or we make, but we are usually among the first to offer relief, whether by cash donation, volunteer aid, or both. We even support efforts in countries that consider us an enemy, which makes me doubly proud.
The storm in Bangladesh all those years ago prompted George Harrison and Ravi Shankar to hold a benefit concert at Madison Square in New York City. Known as the Concert for Bangladesh, it raised relief funds and awareness for the victims. The concert produced a best-selling live album and a film documentary of the concert, which brought in more aid. Even today, sales of the live album and DVD continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF. The benefit concert was the first-ever of such magnitude, and it opened doors for other artists to follow by example.
Today is also World Kindness Day, first introduced in 1998 by a coalition of nations around the world. It is a day that “encourages individuals to overlook boundaries, race, and religion.”
While I am an American, I am also a world citizen. My hope is that all world citizens continue to support each other, whether through The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, UNICEF, or any other relief efforts that support to those in need. We’ve done pretty amazing so far. Let’s keep it going.