Thursday, 15 April 2010


“I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” - Agatha Christie

Another shudder of the earth has caused another tragedy, this time in a remote part of China. This latest fatal earthquake with over 600 people dead and close to 10,000 injured has failed to attract the coverage of the Haiti or Chile earthquakes so far. I heard about it on the radio this morning and then searched the internet for news, but had difficulty in getting something concrete and accurate. Even the exact part of the quake defied my initial attempts to locate it with Google maps. The newspaper this afternoon relegated the news to page 10 with a couple of short paragraphs. More bodies are expected to be recovered with the poverty and remoteness of the region making it difficult for rescue efforts to be carried out.

This latest earthquake brings home what may be a truism: The West has selective awareness and filtered sensitivities to events around the globe. There are some events in some geographies and certain nations that will arouse immediate interest, sympathy and wide media coverage, while others will hardly register or will be given limited media coverage. Our prejudices follow us even in the expression of our altruistic tendencies and our help to fellow humans may be coloured by our carful filtering of the information that reaches our emotional response centres.

The remoteness and poverty of the Qinghai region, located on the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, coupled with the poor weather conditions with biting cold, wind and sleet will make rescue efforts difficult. There is little hope for the people trapped in rubble, who are thought to number about 300-400. People are clawing through the rubble with their bare hands to try and save the trapped. Dozens of children were apparently amongst the dead. Later on tonight the news reports started to come in and supply the terrifying pictures to satisfy the ghouls amongst us. The same images that we saw not too long ago in Chile, in Haiti, in Indonesia…

The terrible part of all of this is that lives have once again been interrupted. Not only the ones prematurely ended, but even the lives of the survivors who have to cope with the terrible loss of loved ones, homes, memories, keepsakes. Imagine that happening to you! The accessibility and yet remoteness of all these terrible things happening around the world can make us immune and blasé about the gut wrenching tragedy that those who experience them first hand feel. Reading the newspapers, seeing the news on TV, accessing the internet provides us with an endless supply of terrible news from every corner of the earth. Overload…

The essence of the tragedy still remains. Some are dead, many are injured, some are trapped and dying. Survivors are going hungry and cold in some remote corner of the earth. We ignore them at our peril. Today it is they in this position, tomorrow our turn may come.

1 comment:

  1. This is another very sad occurence, Nic. I agree with you that we get prefered coverage of some news items. We have become very selfish and pleasure-seeking and we tend to bot out many of these bad news items because they dont affect personally.
    As you say what has happened to these people could happen to us tomorrow!!!