Everywhere I go at the moment, I see posters, fundraising, donation boxes, “dress down” days in co-ops, TV adverts – all for raising money for the tsunami-hit countries. I know you can say that it’s all media influence, the dramatic horror-film footage, maybe just appealing to the childhood fear of being swept into the ocean… but despite this I still find it both heartening and slightly bemusing as to why there is so much going on for this rather than the other disasters round the world.
And then I spoke to one of Pam’s daughters, who is a learning support assistant at a local school. One of the other assistants was out there with her recent husband and children, I think her brother had given them tickets as a late wedding present:- the whole family was killed. The school children and local community were all affected by this… and I realised that there are probably many many similar incidences across the UK. A distant disaster brought far closer to home, not just through the TV but directly through people’s lives.
In many ways, this is about time. An area I’ve been pondering on lately, or perhaps more a “being hit by the blindingly obvious” moment is that truly, we are are global community now, beyond the boundaries of individual countries and cultures, and no I don’t just mean the internet I mean trade, economies, travel, migration, media. And yet – I’m not sure that we mere humans have really got the a conceptual framework to get our heads round this. Many of our religions are still very much of the “in-group/out-group” mentality, and if nothing else I wonder that, when faced by the fact we are a speck on a tiny planet with infinity stretching out around us, let alone one person in a huge diverse and mixed up complex world…a gut reaction is to retreat into a nice cozy ingroup or fundamentalism or inward-looking community or whatever…and I can see this happening in a terrifying way in some of the most influential countries in the world at the moment. For example, the twisting of religious life into US politics, or the existance of political parties like the BNP. Surely we need to get a grip on how our individual countries mesh with the wider world?
It’s all very well to tell people they should be more tolerant of others and accepting of diversity, but really how do you go about that when we’ve got so used to thinking of so many seperate, isolated groups, often believing some more special than others?
Occasional disasters like this one can stir us up for a moment but it’s so easy to slip back into our inward looking lives and country politics. But the issues facing humanity now are on a world-wide scale – no matter what New Zealand might be doing to reduce sheep-farting-pollution, the US is still burning up disproportionate amounts of petrol. Or in terms of world poverty – the UK politicians can gush as much as they like about the aid or debt-relief we are doing, but probably on balance our economy runs on exploiting others and keeping places poor for the cheap workforce. I admitt to not being very clued-in on this area – I’ve long been a self-absorbed scholar who is finally starting to look up from her books and computer screen at the world around 🙂
I’m not really expressing this very eloquently. very out of practice with words lately. Overall though I feel happy to see the response to the tsunami appeal in my area, with all the small scale personal appeals and effort, and yet I just wonder what could be done if we all did this more often, or if the compassion was a little more effectively channeled. It doesn’t take many people to pull together to get something done.