The devastating tsunami in Asia has an impact on all of us. We cannot look at these images without recognizing that these hurt people need help. That help comes to those Asian communities by having those in need increase their circles of helpful communities. The whole world recognizes this – some countries faster than others. We are hearing phrases in the press such as the “world community” or “community of nations” in discussions about the response to disaster, and so it should be. None of the local communities in Asia will fix themselves without the aid from the world community.
I am personally hit with the images of this disaster. I have worked in different areas of the world and know how poor communities receive the brunt of natural disaster. In 1998 a hurricane devastated Honduras. I visited the country months after Hurricane Mitch flooded communities, caused mudslides, and washed sections of plantations away. As part of a medical team assessing the status of medical relief, I could see with my own eyes that poor communities got hit the worst and that Honduras would not recover without years of aid from the world community. Today, Honduras is better, (though still impoverished) largely due to the aid it received from many countries. It will take years for the Asian countries to recover with aid from around the Globe as well.
Each disaster I witness reminds me of lessons learned from previous disasters. Many of these lessons are basic and logical. It is a wonder why we don’t listen and take these lessons to heart between disasters. These lessons should serve to guide us in decisions both personal and communal. Here are the lessons I have learned.
1. It is easy to break things down.
2. It is harder and more costly to build things up.
3. It takes cooperation to make things better.
4. To make things better, we must rely on a community of people to be sources of aid.
5. We hold human life in high regard. Human life is the greatest value we have and we feel this most with tragedies and unreasonable unexpected deaths.
6. We respect those who help others the most. Unselfish people are great blessings.
7. Tragedies lead us to times of unselfishness.
Think about these lessons for a moment. These lessons are applicable to many situations. Whether we are talking about the war in Iraq, the tsunami in Asia, or the deaths of family members in an auto accident, these lessons hold true. These are really rules of life that everyone should heed, not only in times of tragedy but all days of our lives.
If we thought of these as a basic of how we live our lives, we would work to build better communities. Better communities would be in better position to withstand difficult times. Better communities would help support stronger families. Today, as we live in a society which emphasizes “ownership” and the individual, we need to step back and listen to the lessons of the tsunami. Rather than emphasizing the achievement of individuals, our society needs to emphasize unselfishness, cooperation, and community.