The full horror and scope of loss of the Christmas Earthquake and Tsunami’s are a long way from being realized. The numbers are just too high to imagine and the sorrow attached to numbers is meaningless because we just can’t wrap our heads around it. Unless you have lost a loved one yourself, or several, but to lose 30 or 40 family members, plus half your town AND your home in one day is unimaginable to us in the west.
Or it would be if nature didn’t keep plodding it’s way through the world and our lives. Yesterday I watched the images from California of floods and mudslides and read the stories of loss. Of course, the damage in Cali is on a much smaller scale, and we have the on-site resources to rescue the injured and trapped. Our infrastructure is such that we are able to still send help and our country is at peace so that aid workers need not worry about rebels shooting them. Even in the midst of a terrible disaster we still are so much better off than so many other places in the world.
I would submit however, that the California man searching desperately for his wife and children beneath the rubble of a mudslide and the Indonesian man searching desperately for his wife and children under the rubble of an earthquake and tsunami have significantly more in common than any differences they may have. They are both gripped by grief, fear, horror for what their loved ones may have endured and a dying hope for their safe return. Their arms ache to hold their babies again. They are both going through a loss that is more than they can bear.
The aftermath of the California floods and mudslides will be relatively short, it will be quickly cleaned up and we will move on. The Asian countries will have a longer clean up, and they won’t be able to move on as quickly. Entire towns are gone, many are missing, too many people to continue, and so the town will die shortly after many of it’s residents died. In a few years these things will be remembered, more sharply by some, less so by others. Wait a few decades, there will be legends and stories, our memories will grow dim. That is how we are, humans that is.
If that were not so we would all be huddled in a small space in the middle of Germany refusing to go anywhere. Are there not villages on the slopes of Pompeii? Is California still home to the priciest real estate in the USA? People still live on Japan’s islands, build homes in the Mississippi Flood Plains, and start towns in the Turkish provinces prone to earthquakes. Those places will be inhabited again, maybe not for centuries, but they will.
But today the pain is still unimaginable.