We were just finishing a staff meeting.
I mentioned to our senior strategic planner
that, with winter setting in, and with the lack of food,
that hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis might die.
You can hear it in the voices of some of the leaders.
Or at least I think I can.
Given that the richest nation on the earth could not get water
to tens of thousands of hungry, thirsty hurricane victims
just a few blocks from I 10,
a super highway which traverses the breath of this nation,
We should not be surprised that one of the poorest nations,
might have difficulties getting food, water, and shelter
to a million victims of a quaking earth,
on roads that are barely fit for a mule team.
Yet today, I heard stories that one reason so many were hurt
was because of poor construction.
Even PBS jumped on the bandwagon with an interview that
accused the Pakistani government of not being prepared.
The Ambassador retorted that the very nature of an earthquake,
negates the likelyness of being ready.
He said that when you are not prepared or cannot prepare,
You, by defintion, have an emergency.
It seemed pretty logical and straightforward to me.
He then said with a very clear voice,
"We, after all, are primarily concerned with providing relief."
He said that the government response was not slow or limited,
because of a lack of will,
but because of a lack of resources.
Pakistan is a poor country.
Once again, we find the news media looking for the bad guy,
They are looking for the story, for the problem here.
They will tell us about the miraculous saving of a life after five days,
But they will not tell us about the suffering that will continue for years.
And perhaps, it is just as well.
But, my breath was taken away today by a colleague at work.
Upon hearing about the Pakastani disaster still looming,
She indicated that one reason so many people are dying
in these disasters,
is because there are so many people now.
She looked at me as if I would surely understand what she was saying.
I did not.
I was horrified.
And she didn't understand why.
She didn't understand that she was trying to marginalize this carnage.
She didn't understand that she was somehow trying
to make the deaths of these school children less important.
She didn't understand that she was playing the worst of blame games.
She didn't want to think about the hunger and the exposure
that hundreds of thousands of these mountain people are bearing tonight
in the high mountain fall temperatures.
All I could say to her was,
"Yes, I understand what you are saying,
But I don't have the slightest idea why you are saying it. "
It's as if she would reason that the suffering and loss of a mother of five
who loses her middle son,
is less of a loss than the mother of two who loses her second.
Are we to feel better about the deaths of 40,000 Pakistanis
because their buildings are not built to western earthquake standards?
Or because their government was not prepared for a disaster?
Because there are just so many people now?
This woman is not a monster.
She may even be a democrat.
Why must we marginalize suffering?
So we don't have to feel it?
So we don't have to feel guilty about it?
So we don't have to let this human tragedy get too deeply inside?
So we don't have to think about it happening to ourselves?
They must have done something wrong.
They must have sinned.
They must have ignored building codes.
They must have angered the gods.
I too could find myself without a home,
And I would die.
Everybody wants to go to heaven.
But nobody wants to die.
Joe Lewis, boxer
What it is About
art courtesy of Matt Thorton