Amazon.com has replaced its homepage to the Red Cross fund for victims of the Asian tsunamis -- the death toll of which is now being reported at over 114,000 as rescuers are able to gain access to more remote villages.
As has been said many times, these numbers are just beyond comprehension. The best attempts fall into a certain navel-gazing kind of mind-limit.
This reminds me of a time when I was able to ask at a presentation a question of then-COO of Continental Airlines Greg Breneman what his airline could do for humanitarian purposes that perhaps fit comfortably within their business model (excess flight capacity, etc.). I was in college. He seemed offended by the question and waxed philosophical (in the most generous of senses) about communism and free markets -- it was wholly incoherent.
But Amazon.com has just demonstrated an action about which I was asking, and one to which I think many responsible world-citizens aspire. If only more companies thought with such a mindset.
This kind of public/private action can seize across a personal psychology that too often is enabled by our markets and that even depends on the circumscription of events such as world tragedy and social problems. So perhaps even more than just the dollars Amazon.com can raise through its action is the blending of market and public mindset that its consumers will encounter, even if briefly.
Because if the death of over 100,000 people in a disaster of any kind can't transcend the so-called private market sphere, can anything?
[BTW: Word is that the site received 48,000 contributions in its first 24 hours online.]