Guilty of ignoring disasters

Just before I fell asleep last night, several alerts came in about the horrific earthquake that had just hit Haiti. For some reason I didn’t stop to think about it, but instead fell asleep lamenting the fact that the MET office had predicted more snow for today.

I’m sure the sense of detachment from natural disasters is common for many people; after all, if it doesn’t happen to you, it’s easier to ignore. But when I read more of the news today I just ended up feeling incredibly guilty. Of course I should care, hundreds of people have lost their lives and thousands more are missing, their bodies presumed to be buried under the rubble. I looked up some of the reporters photographs, and suddenly it became all too real, as images of bodies lying in the streets were posted up.

I think sometimes it’s harder to make yourself feel something when things like this happen; it’s so far removed from our own experiences. The last time an earthquake hit Britain, I thought it was just someone taking the bins out at some ridiculously early hour in the morning, and went back to sleep. But Haiti’s earthquake has reduced palaces to rubble, destroyed essential infrastructure, and killed thousands of people. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of what has happened.

I do not envy the task of relief and aid agencies as they confront the chaos, struggling to make sense of the situation and trying to reach those who urgently need help. Haiti is already poverty-stricken, and the challenge of rebuilding and reconstructing its towns and cities will require all its strength and resources, not to mention the support of the international community.

I hope endless reports about the snow here will not obscure the significance of the disaster that has hit Haiti.

Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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