Recent weeks have been another period where this inquiry has felt
overwhelmed by data around
I was away for the end of year holiday and out of reach of TV and newspapers except in headline form. So I knew about the tsunami in Asia but as I subsequently realized, didn't see it, and so didn't experience it. This is not a compliment to the BBC's web news pages, which is all I had access to, much though I tend to generally admire them. Returning to urban civilization from the rural life of new babies, rest and recuperation, and carrying wood for the stove, I was as much shocked by the enormous flush of financial empathy for the Far East as I was by the tsunami disaster itself.
I was shocked too by the way that this wonderfully generous response to the terrible deaths of 150,000 people sat alongside the tolerance and indifference to the continuing results of the UK/US attack on Iraq. How curious that while we are powerless to prevent earthquakes, they provoke such an immediate felt response for the victims. By contrast, unless you work at it, details of the damage that has been inflicted on Iraq in the name of neo-colonial 'democracy', are mostly out of the public eye. Too dangerous/expensive to report. Too horrible to look at. And the equivalent numbers of casualties from this escapade... 10,000 soldiers injured, 1000+ soldiers dead. And Iraqi casualties? Well no, we're not counting, the US military have said. Estimates have suggested 100,000. Why don't they register like the dead from the tsunami? Because they are humanly created? Intentional? The collateral damage of our appetite for oil for energy that they have shedloads of, and we depend on? Shame for our complicity? Shame for our inability to influence, interrupt, or prevent the attack on Iraq. When I found this Terry Jones article and later this entry in Dahr Jamail's Iraq blog I was relieved to feel that I not alone in this perception of the tsunami.
Interesting too that apparently, alone of anywhere else in vicinity of the earthquake epicentre, the American military base on Diego Garcia had warning of the coming tsunami, which is perhaps why, even though it is only a few metres above the sea level, no damage seems to have been reported.