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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The tsunami

The new year is less than two weeks old and normally this would be a period of continued celebration in most places, going on almost into the last week of January.

But this has been the most somber start to a year that I can remember, and for perfectly understandable reasons too. The huge tragedy of December 26th , which took just a few hours to unfold, but will take years for many to live down, has got the world in a state of disbelief and shock. The pictures come streaming into our living rooms and, however impactful they may be on our psyche, their effect on us is nothing compared to the trail of loss, damage and pain left behind by the tsunami on the millions that are left to contemplate their lives from here on.

While there may be criticism in some quarters (isn't there always ?) of the speed at which the world at large has acted, I believe the reaction has been about as swift as one can expect, considering the magnitude of the task on hand and the accessibility of some of the affected areas. But then, I am ensconced in the comfort of my living room and am not out there in Banda Aceh, waiting in a queue for a handful of rice. So perhaps I should just keep my opinion to myself.

For most of us, myself included, apart from financial support and prayers - both for the dead and for the well-being of the survivors - there is not much else to do to alleviate the pain of these millions. I am not a particularly religious person but I have learnt in the last three weeks to count my blessings a million times. It may appear selfish but I do it with utmost humility. For the significance of life cannot have been lost on any of us - that it required an event of such horrific proportions to bring this into focus is a reflection of how self-obsessed and often frivolous in its pursuits modern society, of which I am undeniably and perhaps slightly ashamedly a product, has become.

Having said that, it has been like a wake-up call and, governments apart, the common man has come forward as never before to contribute generously to the cause of rebuilding the affected regions. We can only hope that, with the funds pouring in, the world is able to ameliorate living conditions for the unfortunate many. I suspect this will be a long and arduous process but it has got to be done – in today's fast-paced world where attention span tends to get measured in fractions of seconds, it is important not to let the images of the calamity, however repetitive they may be, ever engender a sense of ennui. For they remind us of the task on hand and the responsibility that the world carries upon itself. Until the regions are rebuilt, at least to acceptable living standards, the task is not finished.

If at all any good could have come out of this (and yes, even in this darkest of tragedies, one must look for that ray of light), it would seem that the united front that the world has put up holds a beacon, however faint, for better understanding and relations across the globe. For once, politics was on the backburner and while I have no doubt the world will be back with its wars and tensions, there is hope that new partnerships will be forged and existing ones fortified, especially in Asia where there is a sense of family bereavement, with the members coming together and sharing their grief. That would be small consolation for the huge price that the world has paid but at least that would be a step in the right direction.

I can write more (I am usually not lost for words) but my mind is tsunamied at the moment with thoughts of the tragedy. I need some time.

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