Throughout my years growing up, I can remember my mom saying the following: “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” This is a saying that obviously sticks in my mind to this very day. Then, the tsunami hit along the Indian Ocean, and nearly all of southeast Asia was wiped out. This single event has led me to realize that, due to circumstance, some people can’t help themselves or those near them.

To watch the aftermath from my safe home here in Isla Vista, thousands of miles away from the disaster, gave me a feeling of helplessness in terms of what could be done for the survivors of that tragedy. It was especially frustrating as the casualty numbers began to add up from a mere several hundred to hundreds of thousands.

Do you donate money? Do you pray? Do you petition your government to do something? There is so much to do for so many in need, but what, exactly? Keep in mind that time is of the essence.

The reality is that we have it made, and it is because of this that we can do something for the unfortunate ones in the area ravaged by the tidal wave. This is no time for bickering as to who donated more or to dwell on political agendas. This is a time to get the help and resources to those with a lot less than we have and to do it without delay.

I’ve seen some pretty screwed-up phenomena in my tenure on this planet, but the sheer number of people affected by this event and the aftermath it has created has left me shocked. One can argue the reasons for the high number of casualties: lack of tidal wave monitoring systems, poverty in the affected areas, looming civil war in some regions or whatever. The thing that can’t be argued is the need to help the victims and survivors of this tragedy, and the biggest enemy is time.

Look around you. There are so many ways in which to get involved in the help. Local charities, churches, synagogues, temples and private foundations are there and they need our contributions. Belive me when I say that every little bit helps. It all adds up. Logistically, there really isn’t much the average person can do. But remember that logistics rely on the available finances, and this we do have some control over in terms of what we can give.

It all comes down to the governments on this Earth to get the help to the people of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Indonesia and all of the affected regions with the logistical efforts. It can’t be stressed enough that time is a negative factor and every second lost can cost many lives.

It comes down to us, the people of this Earth, to help those in dire need. Politics aside, this is a time for anyone to pitch in something, anything, in the way of finances. The best part of it is that you don’t have to go far to do this, especially in this age of technology. The organizations are there and waiting for our help, even if it is just the spare change in your pocket or a few dollars.

Look around you, appreciate what you have and think about helping somebody who just lost everything in the blink of an eye. This year has started off with a challenge to the world community. So far the outpouring aid has been nothing less than phenomenal, but remember that it will take a lot to get those areas affected back to some sense of normalcy. These problems will not disappear overnight. These unfortunate souls are going to need our help in any way they can get it and the efforts are going to be lengthy.

Find some way to get involved. Find some way to contribute. Think of the possibility that for some weird reason or circumstance it could be you in the same situation these unfortunate people are in. Find it in your heart to lend a helping hand. It is a new year and halfway around the world there exists a challenge that must be faced. Americans have never run from a challenge or given up in the face of adversity. Give what you can – lives are depending on it.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.