Genuine Shock and Awe

I’m one of those fortunate people in the world that has managed to live my life without witnessing ‘natural’ disaster first hand. Ever since I can remember the news has arrived into our home via the radio or box in the corner that a devastating flood has hit this or that part of the world. Today the news reaches us as fast as if we were in the next town or village via the internet. Children dying on a biblical scale every day because of famine or drought. A Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 left us all speechless. The volcanic eruptions, tornado’s, cyclone’s, avalanche’s, landslide’s and bushfire’s have always been there, somewhere, and will always be there as long as we live on a living ‘breathing’ Earth. The experts tell us that this or that tectonic plate has shifted causing this or that to happen yet, whether by luck or divine intervention, my life has not been directly affected by anything so naturally horrific. Some, like those in California, consciously choose to live directly above a time-bomb like the San Andreas Fault in the full knowledge of its history and potential, but when a disaster strikes, as recent events throughout Australasia have shown, the sheer magnitude of devastation leaves the world holding its breath. This is genuine shock and awe. A rude reminder that the earth brings with it its own agenda which hasn’t changed since time began, and there’s nothing, but nothing we humans can do about it. Yesterdays news put everything sharply into perspective once again as I watched the Japanese tsunami tearing its way inland relentlessly devouring everything in its path. My nephew and his wife live in Japan and thanks to the wonders of modern technology we were able to establish quite quickly that they were safe. Suddenly my routine problems and those of those around me seemed incredibly insignificant. ‘Forget the economic crisis’ I thought. Who cares about Katy Price, what’s for dinner or if I’ve missed a payment on a credit card. I can’t begin to imagine the horrors that people are going through right now at what is, after all, only a plane ride away. The words of Professor Brian Cox came to me as I was driving my car. At the end of the day, to paraphrase, we are all just a bunch of atoms and molecules created from space dust. Maybe our earth is talking: perhaps we should be listening. I’m certainly no expert but it does seem that these disasters of nature are happening more frequently. Global warming? I just don’t know. Perhaps the greatest worry of all is surely that this planet is our only home and there is nowhere else to go. In all these natural circumstances the poor and the rich are equal. Questionably, as a species, we’ve outlived our welcome. Whatever is going on our thoughts and prayers must surely be with those on the other side of the world.

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