Thursday, January 14, 2010

Caribbean tragedy

My humble Antipodes blog can do nothing, of course, to alleviate the suffering of the survivors of the Haïti tragedy. Besides, the purpose of such a blog is not to attempt to solve problems of any kind whatsoever, but merely to engage in the apparently futile preoccupation of recording one's fuzzy impressions of what seems to be happening in the Cosmos, both at home and afar. And what has happened in Haïti is a huge tragedy that is making a profound emotional impact—through contemporary communications channels, including the Internet—upon observers throughout the planet. An emotional impact is one thing, though, but we remain frustrated through our incapacity to be anything more than passive observers. TV spectators in many nations, seeing images of aircraft arriving at Port-au-Prince (landing under manual control, since the airport's infrastructure no longer exists), admire surely the decisions of their respective governments to fly in aid and professional helpers. Meanwhile, the situation evokes a single impression: confusion.

It is the inevitable confusion of a nation whose thinking and everyday actions have never been geared to handling predicaments of any human kind, let alone natural catastrophes. It is frightening to learn, on this evening's TV news, that one of the countless buildings destroyed by the earthquake was the central prison, and that all its former inmates are henceforth roaming the stricken countryside. In fact, even before the news about these escapees, nations flying in aid have been obliged to envisage comprehensive security systems to protect their operations and their operators. Already, in news reports, the terrible theme of looting has appeared.

We imagine naively that Man can generally collaborate with Nature, more or less, for the betterment of human society. But the situation becomes terribly tough when the enemy is suddenly both unleashed Nature and criminal Man. For once, global warming brought about by human industry is totally innocent.

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