I don’t care about the flood. Could not give a damn. I have no empathy for the survivors, no sympathy for the victims. The footage of raging rivers and crumbling homes does nothing to me. It elicits as little an emotional reaction as a poorly rendered special effect in a low-budget movie. I am tired of hearing about it. Tired of the Facebook activists feeling good about their status updates and exhausted by the Twitter heroes tweeting descriptions of starving masses in 140 characters. It is all too boring. Too exhausting.
You can’t blame me for it either. Hey, I fell for this whole racket once before. When the earthquake cracked Muzaffarabad in half, I donated old clothes, packed boxes full of medicine and filled bags with biscuits and water. I took a sizeable chunk of my meagre salary and handed it over. I felt good about my ability to care and basked in the warm glow of my sense of charity. Until, that is, the money I gave never got to where it was intended and the food and drugs and clothes I sent were used to fill the pockets of the opportunistic jackals that leave no rupee unstolen. My optimism is spent. My idealism worn through. I can’t make a difference to anyone. So why bother trying?
The politicians agree. They know what’s what. They understand the importance of ignoring the wailing masses and pleading survivors. It’s every man for himself out here. Let the NGOs and the bleeding hearts do the work. Why should the innocent politicians have to sacrifice their cupboard full of starched white kameez’s and personal army of security guards? The poor don’t matter anyway. They are barely human. If they need to be beaten with sticks while political leaders pose dramatically in front of a fabricated camp then so be it. Nawaz Sharif will be remembered for the speech he gave to an audience of starving wretches, not for the thrashings those same people received because they forgot their place and got too close to his glorious person. Prime Minister Gilani will be respected for the footage of him looking pensively out the window of a helicopter, not for any work he might have done by getting out, away from cameras. The politicians need to think long term. They need to talk to the people who might still be alive enough to vote come next election. Even if those voting booths are built on bloated, water-sodden corpses.
The rest of the world knows how things work too. They know that money they give will be stolen. They know their charity will fund the next Taliban uprising. They are tired of Pakistan and how much it asks of them and how little it gives in return. Anyway, they are tired of donating. Donor fatigue is the buzzword of the day. First Haiti, then Chile and now this. How much can a recession-hit nation afford anyway? There are wars to be funded, drones to be fueled and oil spills that need cleaning. Why should they have to care about a country that didn’t have the common sense to build dams where they were needed and put effective relief organisations in place when the warning signs have been there for so long? Anyway, every time they help us we turn around and spin conspiracy theories about how they probably started the flood using technology culled from Zionist alien crash-landing sites. It’s exhausting.
So you see my problem. It’s not that I don’t want to help, I just have no role models to follow. You can’t expect me to show this much initiative on my own. You can’t ask me to sacrifice a little when I know I’ll probably have to sacrifice a lot later. I don’t care about the flood. Which is why it’s so important that you do.