After the superstorm has passed, I am comforted that my family, relatives and I were safe but a bit ashamed to be living in comfort.
I guess there’s always guilt when you know you can never truly help enough − give enough, console enough − those who are left to pick up the pieces of what were and what had been; those who are still suffering, grieving and now bereft of the most important things and people in their lives.
Heartbreaking stories of survival, loss, search and desperation over the past few days have pulled on more than our heartstrings. They touched something deeper in our soul, as we were suddenly awakened from reckless and unenlightened living to face grim, hardcore realities.
Photo source: CNN.com
On accounts of looting and violence in Tacloban, we question our moralities. In moments of despair and scarcity, we shun our lavish proclivities. Among the countless dead, we think about our own mortality. You must have a heart of stone if you can bear to be indifferent. You must be cold-blooded.
They say no one can ever prepare for the worst disasters in the world. Not even the great superpowers, experts say. You can have all the money, fool-proof contingency plans and state-of-the-art equipment, but lives will still be lost and millions of property will still be destroyed. Many scientific studies on disaster preparedness have been put out, but there’s really nothing that can prepare you for the worst case scenario. You can only cling to dear life, which most people did while some sadly failed, during the worst disaster to hit the land.
Indeed, hell hath no fury like nature scorned.
Social media behavior
I’ve always rallied behind Neil Postman when he said that every technological change is a Faustian bargain. “Technology giveth and technology taketh away.” This trade-off is most apparent in today’s social media. We embrace it for its apparent advantages, but we also sneer at its banality and fear its darkness.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become essential tools in today’s information dissemination and mobilization for meaningful action. It’s been proven time and again, not just post-Haiyan but also in the many events the Philippines has endured. Many countries have heeded our call for help, thanks largely to social media that opened their eyes, their arms and their big hearts. The connections have become more genuine than ever.
However, there are moments when social media has become nothing but a mecca of hostility and antagonism. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. They don’t go talking. There’s just too much unnecessary noise that doesn’t do anything good except add to the emotional burden that people are already facing.
My personal pet peeve is this. Telling people what to post on Facebook, “how to behave” and all those other trivialities is arrogant. We don’t really know everyone − their inclinations, their motivations, etc. People are suddenly going GMRC on us. We can frown upon a food post or selfie for its “assumed insensitivity” but we don’t judge them based on mere conjuncture. For all we know, these people have done their part on the relief more than you can ever imagine. Life just goes on for some. Do we fault them for that?
What I’m saying is, take it easy. Real people have real suffering. We don’t need childish drama.
I believe that it’s our supreme moral responsibility as a decent human being to just be a positive force to each other.
I understand government criticism. In fact, I do it all the time. Vigilance makes the people we voted for and whom we expect to serve our needs to work harder, work smarter, and frankly, just work. We are a betrayed electorate so it’s instinctive to react to familiar crap. Filipinos barely trust the current administration so it’s natural to carry these feelings of anger, wariness and defiance on government corruption and incompetence, even in the most miserable times. Especially in the most miserable times.
However, I also don’t want to undermine the efforts of those people in the government who actually give their all to help. The social workers, the military guys, the LGU officers and members — these are honest and committed workers who don’t deserve the same judgment. It’s tough enough that what they do is a thankless job. These people are on the field 24/7, who go to typhoon-ravaged areas to give the most immediate help. It’s disrespectful and ungrateful to say nothing is being done. It’s unfortunate that they are part of the government you hate but don’t say they’re doing nothing. You see, typing on the keyboard armed with your wit and sarcasm does not compare to riding C-130s armed with relief goods, carrying and burying the dead, rescuing trapped survivors, and gathering and taking care of bereaved families.
Photo source: CNN.com
We have a lot to work on as people, as a nation. We havea government that fails to meet our expectations as it continues to display its shortcomings, to the detriment of many. We have a terrible system of operations that is earning national ire and international shame. We have a lot of politicking, it’s another pile of chaos in the midst of disaster. This is our reality and we will continue to change that as we regain what was recently lost. I believe that all these criticisms will be put in perspective. I believe that everything will work out fine. We are a work in progress. Any amount of cynicism that boils inside of you should work toward that progress.
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind! – Kurt Vonnegut
I can never reiterate enough the wonderful reality of kindness. Gratitude is beyond words for the people here and from all over the world whose generosity knows no boundaries. Such amazing display of love and friendship completely restores my faith in humanity, a millionfold. We may be in pain now but it’s nice to know that we are in this together.
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. Cheers, fellow earthlings!
On our road to recovery, let’s continue to help!