learning from catastrophe – issues on the table

The tsunami catastrophe is one of those things that brings out the worst and the best.

The event occurred in an area rife with contrasts. Much of the population was living like they did hundreds of years ago but a tourist trade was flourishing and either corrupting cultures or stimulating economic growth and development depending upon which side of the fence you stand.

The response to the tragedy became a political football. Many world leaders were on vacation so it was a pick your target for those who wanted to whine about slow response. Meanwhile, those countries with defined and developed catastrophe response organizations, such as the American Red Cross and USAID, got down to business without waiting for the politcal machinery.

A week after the event we see faux mourning. Those who are able to continue with business as usual are being condemned. New Year’s parties are being cancelled or being turned into wakes. The ‘can you top us’ game is going full steam in regards to fund raising and relief efforts.

There is also the confusion, the moral confusion, between a natural disaster such as this and the 9/11 attack in the US. What is war, what is rescue? What drives the response? Who are your friends?

And, did you know that the disaster took care of some of the region’s terrorism problem?

One shouldn’t forget the argument about divine retribution or the will of God or why such a disaster was allowed to happen. When we see such misery it is always a promting for us to think about our beliefs and their foundations.

The problem is that we have a disaster where entire towns have been wiped off the map. Survivors have been dispersed from their cohorts. The terrain is difficult to access and people are stranded and isolated all over a very large area. There are massive amounts of debris and material, and even bodies to clean up.

It is going to take time and effort to re-establish communications and find those who need assistance and then to get them the assistance they will need. Let us put our efforts, contributions, and prayers on bringing health to the survivors and some degree of normalcy to the afflicted nations.

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