Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Opportunity for Perspecitve

Yesterday, it seemed that everyone was talking about O'Brien-Leno conflict and the fact that it is Simon Cowell's last season on American Idol.

Today, those stories are shuffled, like they should be, to the background, while we focus on the tragedy in Haiti.  My thoughts and prayers are directed towards the Haitian people.

Potentially hundreds of thousands of people have died in an earthquake that has left the country devestated.

All it took was a few seconds for us to stop and put things in perspective.  For now.

The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsnaumi killed nearly 300,000 people.  And we have already almost forgotten that it ever happened.

Maybe it speaks to our infrastructure, our support, or our money that a disaster of this proportion has not occured in the United States.  But maybe not.  Maybe it is just luck.

Not to discount any loss and pain that many people have experienced due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it was a fraction of the suffering and loss of life experienced by these other national disaters.  But it happened on our own shores, so we keep talking about it.

Is it truly out of sight, out of mind?

How long will we remember the people in Haiti?

"So long as we live among men, let us cherish humanity."  ~Andre Gide


  1. I'll predict most people will be back to talking about Conan and Leno by Tuesday of next week.

    Our attention spans are short when we aren't personally affected by such disasters. I honestly think the only reason people paid as much attention to the tsunami as they did was because it hit so many tourist destinations and a lot of famous Americans were hurt, killed, or otherwise affected.

  2. It did shift things...but then today I saw the top news item on my e-mail account was that Hugh Hefner's twin girlfriends had moved out. Maybe it was just the cycle at that time...and Haiti is probably still the top story. But it seemed VERY frivolous in light of all that's happening.

  3. I think our strict building codes implemented after San Francisco's 1906 quake have a lot to do with our surviving natural disasters. Alaska was hit with the worst earthquake ever recorded in the U.S.—it was a 9.2 (whereas Haiti was a 7.0) and lasted almost 5 minutes (Haiti's lasted about 1 minute), and while lives were lost and the damage was tremendous, most buildings survived intact. AND THAT WAS BACK IN 1964! Construction requirements were improved even more after that for the entire country, which I am sure helped San Francisco and Los Angeles to survive their earthquakes in the 80s and 90s with much less loss than might have occurred.

    I can only speak for myself, but the Tsunami was a huge news story up here and we were deeply moved by the loss and the need; we had drives to collect money, food, blankets, etc. and AK rescue teams that took everything directly there. I don't know that we have forgotten about that particular tragedy, but as they say, life goes on. I think Karen hit the nail on the head: our attention spans are short when we aren't personally affected.

    Good post! Lots to think about!