Commentary on Disasters, Tragedies, & Government (with recommendation of film “Tsunami – The Aftermath”- a film with Tim Roth)
One of the last nails into the coffin containing my illusion that governments care about protecting the well-being of people occurred following the horrendous tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. I buried the illusion a few years later.
Recently I viewed and highly recommend the film “Tsunami – The Aftermath.” (It was an HBO mini-series, joint project of HBO and the BBC, directed by Bharat Nalluriand, and is available in a 2-dvd set) You can view its trailer from Mobfilmco from YouTube”:
Writer/screenwriter Abi Morgan did a fine job, as did those in production and the entire cast, in creating a fitting, moving, poignant and powerful drama based upon the monstrous December 26, 2004 tsunami which devastated 11 countries, killing over 200,000, and resulting in the suffering and loss of homes of millions. The stories of several are told, beginning briefly with the individuals prior to the tsunami, the tsunami, and the aftermath.
This is a serious human drama of suffering and hope, of indifference and compassion, of sorrow and joy…and of raising questions any thoughtful individual witnessing such destruction and human pain would question: Was this degree of death preventable?
It is that question character Nick Fraser (Tim Roth), a journalist, explores…and it is the question I had following this tragic loss of life.
There’s a great line spoken by Tim Roth’s character in the film. In reply to his colleague who is expressing the sentiment and concern that people need not see some of the photos depicting burning of bodies, he replies something to the effect – but the governments need to see it.
Powerful line, powerful sentiment.
Governments worldwide claim to be the protectors of their people, but all of history shows me the opposite. In this instance, what could have been done, which was not, that could have mitigated loss of life from a tsunami? Tsunami waves emanating following such a massive undersea earthquake can take hours to reach land. The worst-case scenario occurred – but it was not something unforeseen. Warning systems, a communication protocol, education…what of these may have saved thousands of lives? Apparently, even a relatively short notice could have saved thousands who would have sought higher ground.
Intervention from governments worldwide need not wait till a disaster has occurred or is occurring, but years before if protecting human life is the goal.
Governments worldwide who could have provided education and preparation in such tsunami-prone regions and all the governments of that region who one would think would have a responsibility to do anything reasonably within their abilities to prepare for the worst-case scenario failed to do what could have been done long before the tragedy.
To me, it matters not whether one is supposed to be involved in helping fellow human beings, but if they are able to do so…but, of course, governments do not operate on this moral principle…only individuals do. As an individual, it matters not to me what one’s job/responsibility in that role is, it matters not whether a protocol is in place or not, if one has knowledge which could save lives, one would do anything and everything to notify and save whatever lives can be reached…during a potential risk with notification, and prior with education and whatever scientific means could be established.
Take the inspiring example of Kerry Sieh, a geologist and professor, who when met with apparent indifference by governments in the region to his findings/warnings, took it upon himself, an individual, to warn villagers in advance…read of him at the WND Jan. 9, 2005 website article “The man who predicted the tsunami – Leading geologist handed out fliers to warn residents.” His is the example of what one man can do.
And, too, the relief efforts following the tragedy, are evidence that individuals worldwide poured out charitable contributions (governments gave money received from taxation – thus all of that is also from the people). Statistics of nation state giving toward the tsunami disaster relief as of September 30th 2005 from NationMaster.com and here, an excellent (and early January 24, 2005) commentary in The Christian Science Monitor regarding the outpouring of private philanthropy “A ‘Tsunami’ in Private Giving -Governments should learn from aid groups.”
You see, individuals can be and are compassionate and generous…governments are neither. A government consists of people who have earned nothing thus their “giving” evinces not from generosity but from a sense of obligation…after-all, eyes are watching, and politicians must appear to live up to their claim of being the benevolent “daddy” to all.
We see such behavior following any natural disaster or other human tragedy, all the politicians come out, tears in their eyes, quivering voices expressing condolences and prayers, with some of those very politicians responsible for the unjustified killing and suffering of their own and other peoples worldwide through their wars/military actions, embargoes, and other activities which hurt not help people. It is impossible for me to believe there’s sincerity and sadness over people’s deaths and suffering when the one speaking the words causes the same through their governmental decisions and policies.
It is a widely propagated myth, a grand illusion, a big lie that government is benevolent, a protector, or representative and accountable to the people it claims to represent. In reality, governments worldwide are the curse of the people – it’s the ultimate example of class warfare, but few people ever question, and without a seeking of truth, valuing truth above all, they remain instead victimized repeatedly by their own self-imposed ignorance and refusal to examine the ethical and moral lack of the premise governments operate by. Governments respond when they feel a need to “prove” their benevolence in view of tragedy – after-all despite the pedestal most people place politicians upon, coldness in wake of tragedy would be viewed as such by most.
At this point in my life, my opinion, the conclusion I’ve come to after years of political participation in my past, is that governments worldwide exist only for themselves – their best interest – for “government” is merely a term for the people who have assumed coercive authority even over those who do not agree with or condone it. Politicians, their sustenance, is wholly dependent on not what they create or earn but what they can take in taxation from the people who do work…and all in the guise of providing a service or safety net to you. History again and again shows little service or safety.
It is not the business of governments to do what is best for the people, it is the business of government to do what it thinks best for itself. I believe the 2004 Asian tsunami to be just one example of this.
The real charity, the real compassion, the real love comes from all of you who volunteer and donate and do whatever is within your capacity to help others in need wherever that may occur. And, this, dear reader is precisely where it should come from. Those who love others do not measure decisions by agendas such as political expediency or money. Voluntary giving is the only giving which is true charity. When people of goodwill join forces to help, immense assistance and solving of problems occur – this is because they do so from their heart with no ulterior motive of gain to be had. Matters affecting human life, death, and suffering should never be politicized.
If the goal is freedom, peace, love, compassion and all the beauty which comes from relating to one another as in the same family of man, those who subscribe to these principles of life must relinquish their false belief that men in coercive power are the means to ever achieve it and thus stop lobbying governments to do this or that and instead focus on doing now what they can – as individuals – to help others.
John Lennon’s song, “All You Need Is Love,” says it all and well. Love comes from individuals, not coercive collectives comprised of people whose agendas do not reflect the best interest of the people.
There were excellent questions raised by the ordeals and experiences of the fictional characters in the actual event inspired/research based, film “Tsunami – The Aftermath.” (Click to return to or visit The Tim Roth Page on my website.)
I highly recommend the film to you, and the extras available on the two-dvd set. Watch it, and think of this and so many other natural disasters and other tragedies, and consider who really has cared, not cared, and who pretends to care.
Here are more informational links and excellent articles I read during my research following its viewing:
Excellent article by Peter Symonds, “The Asian tsunami: why there were no warnings,” January 3 2005, The World Socialist Website.
Article at Ethics in Action, “Five years post-tsunami: Land conflicts yet to be resolved,” (Asian Human Rights Commission):
At UNESCO website, April 13 2012, from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, “Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System performed well, detailed assessment underway”
Excellent resource from The National Academies Press, publication year 2011- Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation’s Preparedness Efforts.
Interesting piece by John Stossel, Nov. 29, 2006, includes various charitable giving info and figures including pertaining to personal giving versus governmental regarding the tsunami, “Are Americans cheap?”