Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Building the enormity over time

The natural disaster in the Indian Ocean has been an interesting lesson in news and information gathering. The first reports coming from the area on December 26 stated that nearly 7000 had died due to the tsunami. The stories were sketchy on the physical impact of the quake and the resultant tsunami. Standard television, radio and newspaper reporting has increased the number of dead and missing each day, usually jumping by 10-15,000 each day. It was a cataclysmic event – but the enormity has developed over time. The areas hit hardest are either remote islands, like the Maldives; or are isolated areas of major countries, served by dirt roads or inland waterways. What little communication that existed was destroyed, and it took time for people to re-connect with the rest of the world.

Compare this to the Mt. St. Helens volcano, or the World Trade Tower attacks, or every suicide explosion in Iraq and the Middle East. Our communications vehicles – 24-hour news radio and television, the internet, cellular phone systems – carry the news immediately. The world knows.

There are still remote outposts in the world. This is probably a good thing. Our concept of advancement, progress, development, modernity, are not desirable truths to all people.

Not apropos to anything else in this passage, but I saw an interesting bumper sticker today:

Not every problem
has to have an American solution.

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