Friday, January 07, 2005

The Other Disaster

Yesterday, as I was walking (snowshoeing) in the woods, my mind, as it is wont to do, wandered around the world. For a time, my thoughts landed on the Tsunami disaster. Unless you live in a dark place, say under a huge batholithic structure, you know all about, or at least a lot about this tragedy and of the great and genuine need that it has created. You have probably already given from your heart and pocketbook in some way, however small — as indeed you should. According to today's Toronto Star, forty-eight million dollars have been pledged to the Canadian Red Cross alone. Impressive and commendable!

I applaud this, and I applaud the great and generous spirit shown by people and governments everywhere. Critics are quick to point out that not enough was pledged early enough, and they may have a valid point. But give credit where credit is due — a lot is now being done.

However, as much as I think this outpouring indeed wonderful, whilst on my woodsy walk yesterday, I began to muse about how we are fairly good at stepping up to the plate in times of disaster but terribly inadequate at sustaining our care and concern beyond the crisis itself. To wit: we know that there is systemic global poverty, that hundreds of millions of people are undernourished, that there is a genuine AIDS epidemic in Africa. We know this and seem to be unmoved. In effect, whether we intend it or not, we close or eyes, ears, and hearts to the prolonged misery that is the lot of myriads of people: people no less deserving than the tsunami victims — and no more deserving may I add (in case you begin to misunderstand me).

This morning, synchronicity struck. I happen to catch a comment something like this on CBC radio: "The equivalent of a tsunami occurs every week in Africa." I wish that I could report on the whole interview. I wish that I could cite the speaker's name, but I was simply passing by the radio, and that is all that I heard, and the interview was just concluding. Like me, do you not find that information simply staggering? Because I have taught global issues and world disparity in times past, I have some awareness of such realities, but I had never considered it in this light. Have you?

Then, late this morning, we stopped at the tiny general store in Glen Alda (population rumoured to be eleven strong) to order an apple pie as dessert for tomorrow's company. Given his location, the owners can't be raking in money hand over fist, so I sometimes look for other items that I can purchase. Today, I chose The Toronto Star, even though I had perused it online this morning, just as I do on most mornings.

So it was that synchronicity struck yet again, for the political cartoon features a bloated-bellied, black-skinned child standing at the bottom of a map of Africa. Lying beside him on the ground is an empty bowl. Whizzing past are huge trucks stirring up clouds of dust. The words Tsunami Aid are writ large and bold on the sides of the trucks.

What of this child?

I have blogged about this before. Quite simply, I know not what to do: except to think about it on occasion, write a bit on occasion, and donate a bit on occasion.

Let's aid the tsunami victims to the best of our ability. Then, let's resolve to do a little better about remembering the Other Disaster. Let's do something tangible there too. Come February or March, perhaps you and I could donate the equivalent of our Tsunami gift to some appropriate NGO that is always there where it is always needed trying to do whatever it can.


1 comment:

karla said...

I too, heard that comment on CBC yesterday morning. Although I didn't catch the whole interview, the 30 000 preventable deaths every day still haunts me.

Thank you for the post. It was quite eye openining as I had not thought of such tragedies in that light.