Wednesday, January 5, 2005
by Frankie Potts
After the 9-11 New York tragedy that took 3,000 lives, the glow of candlelight vigils blossomed in many other countries to show sympathy and support for the U.S.
As of this writing I've neither seen nor heard of candles flickering on American shores after the tsunami that snuffed out more than 100,000 lives in 11 countries.
Candlelight. It casts a pleasant glow, but Americans seemingly have no time for it, seeking other ways and means to express their concern. Money, medicine and food in tsunami proportions are being funneled into the ravaged countries from the U.S. As the death toll has risen, so has the pledges of millions of dollars from around the world as people unite to overcome the effects of this natural disaster.
It's one that could not have been prevented, but might have been lessened if earthquake/tsunami warning systems had been in place in that part of the world. They weren't there, we were told, in part because the countries couldn't afford them. Obviously, there is enough money worldwide to afford them many times over, as this outpouring of wealth for relief now proves.
In other parts of the world, away from tsunamis, mothers are holding starving skin and bones they call children. The world is no stranger to hunger even without tsunamis. And yet-it's proven-there is food enough for all.
Men strike out against men in bloody battles waged over power, religion or imaginary boundaries we have come to call towns, states, countries.
Where are the candles for these outrages?
We've seen the pictures of Earth taken from space. We've seen that big blue and white globe hanging in space.
From space it is apparent that Earth is one sphere, one world to which we all cling like magnets on a refrigerator door. But take away that universal perspective and we all become giants with tunnel vision. We become a people of separation. My neighborhood, your neighborhood; my town, your town; my state, your state; my country, your country; my problems, your problems.
Viewed from space, there is no division. We are all part of a whole. One world, one people.
Why doesn't that reality transfer to us earthlings? Why don't we free ourselves from war against our brothers, from these imaginary boundaries that hem us in and rob us of common citizenship in our one planet? Why don't we understand that, as Earth's citizens working together, we can tap into the bounty with which this world has been blessed?
As one world, one people, tsunami warnings worldwide would have been routine, just as the abundance of the world's food, oil and water would have been equally shared.
I'm afraid man will continue to kill man, wage greedy wars over religious differences and boundaries of our own making, and allow people to starve on an Earth of plenty. Oh, they may come together, momentarily and not always all together, when Nature shakes us up to show us how small we really are.
I think of that blue and white sphere hanging like a child's marble in the vastness of space, and I've come to a conclusion. Our Earth must be the universe's Insane Asylum, with some of us just a little crazier than others. How else can one explain the madness we allow?
And how many candles would have to be lit to change it?
. Frankie Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working for several newspapers in Washington state.