End lost in means

The tsunami relief effort that kicked off with last week’s media marathon has resumed with a nationwide school campaign. The Greek public has already raised an astounding 19 million euros. Millions of people across the globe have contributed some $16 billion altogether. Despite calls from the United Nations to channel the aid to the tsunami victims without delay – and barring concerns over fair and transparent distribution that stem from past mismanagement – the collected amount is not all that matters. It was equally vital to see people respond swiftly to the calamity by setting up an invisible, global net of solidarity. It represented a different aspect of globalization. This protective net would hardly have emerged without the mass media’s involvement. The instant TV images, the Internet, telephones, and satellites were the arteries which circulated the devastating news along with the pleas for help. It is something we Greeks experienced last week; hence we comprehend it. What we have to rethink, perhaps, is the wrong turn that can throw such an effort off track. However moved one may have felt watching the tele-marathon, one could not help sensing that the whole thing gradually degenerated into a TV show featuring all the typical ingredients: celebrities, donations by famous people, controversial figures and incidents that bordered on the vulgar. To be sure, solidarity and compassion remained the driving force behind the effort. Even so, as the program unfolded throughout the nation it grew more and more into an image of ourselves, reflecting our vanity and our celebrity obsession, whether in bidding for a soccer star’s boots or a popular singer’s shirt. Hyperbole is the word. We were all there, with undeniably good purpose. Yet sometimes the media seem to distort the ends in their own irresistible fashion.