Friday, 2 October 2009

natural disasters

the disasters in indonesia and samoa have been really tragic, and mostly the reason why i haven't been posting in the last couple of days. i've been in tears a couple of times in the last few days, hearing accounts from people who have suffered and looking at pictures of the devastation.

my reaction to the news that a tsunami would be hitting coromandel (this was before i'd heard that it wasn't going to be a major event) was pretty unsettling. i'm not sure that i actually want to admit to it, but i felt more upset at that threat than i did when hearing that it had already hit samoa. admittedly at that point, the reports of the loss of life hadn't come through yet and i had no concept of how big a tragedy it was for our neighbours in the pacific.

but the thought of my own country being at serious risk caused me real grief. we're so used to being safe here from most natural disasters, as well as being safe from war and racial violence. we've never had to face the reality of bomb blasts in major cities, like iraqis or afghanis or so many other countries do. we've had very few mass shootings like they seem to have much too regularly in america. we're actually very much protected from multiple deaths from natural or human causes that i found even the thought of it upsetting. even though, in hamilton, we were never remotely at risk.

i've been trying to analyse what lead to this reaction. is the root is some kind of nationalism? or just the fact that a potential tragedy happening on these shores and so close to home made it somehow more real? i can't seem to pin it down. all i know was that any danger to this country and the people here seemed unbearable to me.

since then, i've been following reports of overseas events, and thinking how sad it is that one of the main reasons for the loss of life (particularly in indonesia) is because these are countries that can't afford strong infrastructure and standards that require buildings to be earthquake and disaster proof. many people live in whatever cheap structures they can afford, structures that won't withstand a natural disaster.

as they bury their dead, try to clean up the mess and start to rebuild, we can send money to help and maybe some volunteers. but in the end we carry on our lives, being thankful that at least we in this country are safe. for now.

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