Natural Disasters are Bad Things

Yes. you read that right. Natural disasters are Bad Things. This is a well-known fact. They would not be called “Disasters” (natural or otherwise) if they were Good Things. But, and this may make me an Outcast in your books, I do not want to hear about Haiti.

Haiti has been in need of assistance for DECADES. It’s been one of the poorest countries in the world for many, many, ma-hany years. And nobody cared about the poor people dying then. Nobody cared about the HIV/AIDS epidemic then. Nobody spent bandwidth from Twitter and Facebook sending $10 per text message to the little bloated-stomach children eating banana leaves then. But NOW. Now you can’t *not* hear about it on the news. So, what, it takes thousands of people dying at once (versus thousands of people dying over the past ten years) for anyone to pay attention to people in need?

Sure, I’m unfeeling about this (I’m not *really*; I’m just mad about the way this stuff “affects” people). And I apologise if I’ve offended your sense of propriety. Dear GOD, how can anyone speak out against disaster relief?

*I* don’t care where you donate your money. I’m glad there is something in the world greater than we are, which we can latch on to in support. There are *many* things in the world greater than we are, which we can latch on to in support. And I’m glad folks care about helping people. All this good mojo and good karma has to rebigulate stuff.

But. It’s just that…[clicking tongue] I don’t know, really.

And hearing that wassisname said the reason the earthquake happened at all was because the Haitan people “were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

True story.

Napoleon the Third and whatever.

So. I’m just…pissy. That it took a freaking earthquake for people to understand what living in poverty really means. It means overcrowding and unsafe living conditions and terrible infrastructure and famine and disease and MASSIVE numbers of bodies lying in the streets when Something Bad happens.

Don’t not donate your money and time and prayers and effort to helping people. Just…think. About *why* things are the way they are (and I’m pretty sure that hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti aren’t dying because they made a pact to the devil, Napoleon the third “and whatever” notwithstanding.

THAT is the problem I’m having with the way this thing is being reported…the way many things are being reported. There’s no context. And for people who are Not Inclined to go FIND the context, they’re coming away from this with a skewed (and most likely incorrect) view of the Way Things Really Are. That bothers me.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

6 Comments

  1. Nobody? There are RCMP, and UN and MCC and lots of NGOS. Sure, its a big problem, but to say it’s been ignored is ignoring the fact that thousands of Canadians are there today, and were there last week before the earthquake, helping. There’s some context that you seem to have missed.

  2. Dude (or Dudette; it’s so difficult to tell these things when you’re wearing a fancy costume), the RCMP, the UN, the MCC, and the NGOs don’t amount to a fart in the wind when there’s something REALLY IMPORTANT going on like a pop star dying. Or a politician lying. I’m talking about what gets reported, not what actually goes on. My point was that the people…the *consumers*, if you will, of “news” in the world would never know that the RCMP, the UN, the MCC, and lots of NGOs have been providing aid to places like Haiti for generations. Why would those consumers not know about it?

    BECAUSE THERE IS NO CONTEXT PROVIDED IN THE NEWS.

    That there was kind of my point, but I probably lost you around the time I mentioned banana leaves.

    So sure, I used hyperbole (a literary device indicating exaggeration) a little too freely. For this, I apologise. Please re-read the second paragraph as follows:

    “…And nobody (but a few people who actually make a difference and are dedicated to famine and poverty relief around the world all the time but who don’t get media attention for it because they do it freely and quietly of their own volition, which isn’t newsworthy because the folks doing it aren’t interested in getting attention, just in making lives better) cared about the poor dying people then. Nobody (but a few people who actually make a difference and are dedicated to famine and poverty relief around the world all the time but who don’t get media attention for it because they do it freely and quietly of their own volition, which isn’t newsworthy because the folks doing it aren’t interested in getting attention, just in making lives better) cared about the HIV/AIDS epidemic then. Nobody (but a few people who actually make a difference and are dedicated to famine and poverty relief around the world all the time but who don’t get media attention for it because they do it freely and quietly of their own volition, which isn’t newsworthy because the folks doing it aren’t interested in getting attention, just in making lives better) spent bandwidth from Twitter and facebook sending $10 per text message to the little bloated-stomach children eating banana leaves then.”

    Point taken.

  3. Not the context you were looking for, I’m sure, but a news clip that I’ve really enjoyed in the midst of the media zoo:

    The Haitian Ambassador on Rachel Maddow.

  4. Of COURSE the people of Haiti have always had problems…BIG problems and there are people out there who have been donating and working with them all along. The difference this time is that this isn’t a poo/rich problem. The difference is that there isn’t any food and isn’t any drinking water to be had for neither the rich, nor the poor. The difference is that in one day 50,000 people dropped dead. The difference is that there are no medical services in the country at the moment for rich or poor because the hospitals have collapsed. There are poor in every country and people work year round to assist those people. I’m sure that when the tsunami hit there were people who were in need all along prior to the disaster and I am sure that there were organizations in there who collect donations year round in there to help them. This is on a much bigger scale.

    I have a big problem with disaster workers and reporters being in there with food and water for themselves so they can keep on helping and keep on reporting while a child is looking on at them happy and healthy and provided for. I heard a guy from CNN on the news this morning and it really pissed me off when he said “we will be fine for a few days yet” and then “there are people here who haven’t eaten since the earthquake hit”. GIVE THEM YOUR DAMN FOOD & WATER!!!!

  5. I agree. Context is the problem. And when some sort of context is attempted, it seems to be to be disingenuous and screwy.

    Every time I turn on the news, Canadian news is particularly bad at this, it seems to be an interview with the second cousin of the mother who knows someone from Haiti. The context is wrong. The media is making the story about how it is affecting people in Canada. Which doesn’t mean that those people in Canada who actually know someone in Haiti aren’t deserving of compassion. But, it really has nothing to do with Haiti.

    That is what is bugging me about the way this disaster is being reported. The media is making the story about a few Canadians in some misguided and feeble attempt to appeal to the heart strings of Canadians.

    Maybe it is less expensive, to do this. Perhaps it is a failed attempt to provide the context you are seeking. But for the most part I think it is that the media is failing to serve us and indeed the people of Haiti.

  6. Woz: Yes, that’s something too. I feel very bad for all the Canadians who’ve family and friends they can’t contact in disaster-stricken parts of the world. But their grief isn’t news. It’s *sad*, and it’s *entertainment* (sadly, that’s what this has come to; we’ll watch the news if there’s a promise of an emotional train-wreck), but it’s not news. What’s news is WHY there are so many dead due to the earthquake. What’s news is what’s being done to fix the *real* problems. What’s *news* is whether any of the aid being offered to Haiti is also coming in the form of advance warning systems and better archetecture/civil planning so that the next time an earthquake/tsunami hits the region, the death toll won’t be as devastating.

    And the news is also how people who Are Not Poor react to people who are. Napoleon the Third and whatever.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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