Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 24, 2005
Tsunami tragedy touches all of us
All my family lives in the Philippines. Although I know the area hit hard by the Asian tsunami does not include the Philippines, I still wanted to know if they have been affected by the disaster.
"Not really. But we were affected by the images of the disaster," said my mother.
Images are powerful, especially those depicting human suffering. When we see images of people caught in unmerited misfortunes, we cannot but be moved. Although we are not related by blood to people who are now treading uncertainly after that disaster, one thing is sure: Humanity is truly one body.
Among the many commentaries lately, one comment of a local bystander struck me. "They have to play those images over and over again so that aid will keep on coming." There is some truth to that.
When Sept. 11 happened in the United States, images helped in shaping people's feelings. The same images bred compassion and solidarity with the Americans. As well, anger and hatred were born out of those disturbing images.
However it is important to point out one staggering difference between the two tragedies. With Sept. 11, people who grew angry had someone to direct their anger against. With this present disaster, to whom would people direct their anger?
While interviewing some people in Stettler on how they were affected by the images of Asian tsunami, one man said he was not affected at all because he was a long way from the ocean. Perhaps he just did not appreciate being interviewed on the street.
But it amazes me that somehow there are people who can say with a straight face, "I am not affected by all of this."
Of course we are affected by this disaster even when we are thousands of miles away from it. We are affected because we are one body. And when one part of this body is suffering - even its smallest part - the whole body feels the pain and somehow reacts to that pain.
At times like this, we are not only reminded of our connectedness as human beings. We are reminded as well of the fragility of life, not only of those who died, but of our own as well. We are reminded how vulnerable life can be in the face of forces beyond human capacity. And therefore we are invited to reflect on how precious life is.
At times like this, we are invited to hold onto the reality of being one body who are called to care for each other.
At times like this, we are invited to forego differences, to eliminate hatred, to stop wars and to lift up the most vulnerable of all.
Of course we are affected by this disaster. Otherwise, we would just turn our televisions off whenever reports about tsunami relief efforts and how victims are coping with the disaster appear. And even when we turn the television off as we grow weary of those disturbing images, we are still affected because we are disturbed.
Of course we are affected by this disaster because it highlights which countries have resources and which do not have.
As people living in a country with multiple resources, it is hoped that we dig deep into our pockets to make even a small donation. And when we see and witness young children letting go of their treasured piggy banks it would be difficult not to be affected by such genuine love of one's neighbour.
While we make a small effort of contributing to disaster relief funds, at times like this we are also invited to do what hopefully is familiar: to pray.
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