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Sunday, June 04, 2006

The earth who cried wolf

From terrorist attacks, to tsunamis, to hurricanes, to the recent earthquake in Yogyakarta, don't you have the slightest feeling that you can't really be bothered this time? That's what happens when the frequency of calamities and disasters increases to a point where aid agencies are cropping up by the dozens for relief work, deployed systematically throughout the globe in efforts to rebuild communities and civilizations.

Just like the fairy tale, the first time, we are intrigued, we watch the news, we follow, we donate, we read, we pray, the second, we do the same, but after a while you have this idea that eventually there's going to be more and more. The root of this problem, global warming, is causing the planet to shut down in stages but the fact remains that no matter what sort of treaty gets signed or what leaders and communities try to do now, will not be able to fully reverse the damage that has already been done for decades.

So, Yogyakarta came and went, and people realize that they can't offer any aid without affecting their way of life. All of our aid went to a disaster that we thought needed most help. Sure, people will say, if you can't help a lot, help a little, but the fact remains that however little we can do to help, there will be another asking for a little more. I am not saying that donation and assistance is a bad thing, definitely not. But if you're looking at this article through a focused lens then you would probably think that it is a selfish thought.

Think about this, then, the other day I met a nice fellow at a bar, of course after a couple of drinks I become extremely sociable, so we end up talking about disasters because the breaking news on TV was a landslide in Ulu Klang, about 5 minutes from where I was, and so I talked about all the natural disasters happening around the world over the past few years, basically what I mentioned above, and he said that we are lucky that we're still safe, that nothing major of this sort has happened to us yet. I immediately responded with a 'no, you can't think that way... things that happen to other people doesn't tell us that we are a lucky bunch, but it teaches us that we can't take anything for granted these days. It could happen to us.'

Perhaps a little morbid considering we were on the second bottle of brandy, but it is still true, we are not lucky, and it is only because we think so that we feel we are in the capacity to give, to help, but what really is the key for luck? There is no such thing as luck, only the illusion of it. To minimize this, I think that funds out to be channeled to disaster prevention; erect more tsunami alert towers, have more sensors all over the place, invest in our own meteorological satellite or something to the equivalent, or organize evacuation procedures by designating evac trial runs. Just imagine if there was some sort of tornado or quake happening in downtown KL, the way our drivers drive, all available exits will be stuck and everyone would certainly perish because we simply aren't prepared. So what if you donated 80% of your salary for the last disaster? When things happen, that would mean absolutely nothing to the good and able people who could help you out, but have already numbed to cries for help.