Friday, May 9, 2008

Story of the Week - May 5-9

Hard to Fathom

fathom - v. to penetrate to the truth of; comprehend; understand

A cyclone this week in Burma killed (depending on what source you cite) either 22,000 or 100,000 people, and left behind a nightmare situation for the living.

I heard at least one pundit call the disaster "Myanmar's Katrina." No. Katrina was bad. This is worse.

How much worse? You can't even begin to penetrate the truth of such a disaster.

One Hundred Thousand people dead? Incomprehensible, you can't even begin to put that into perspective. You can't even fathom 22,000.

Response was slow after Hurricane Katrina, but that was nothing compared to this. Our government showed incompetence. The military junta that controls Burma doesn't care at all about its people. That's hard to understand. What's even harder to figure out is why this military junta doesn't want help from the outside world. An outside world that wants to help.

You can't comprehend such indifference, oppression and ignorance. As bad as the Bush administration has been, you can still be assured that what happened in Myanmar can't happen here. Or any thing remotely close to that, for that matter.

In September, I wrote about Myanmar/Burma after monks there staged a protest against the military junta. The protests sparked international outrage and brought the plight of the Burmese people to the forefront of world consciousness. Then the junta squashed the protests and the world (for the most part) went back to forgetting about the Burmese people.

Paying attention wouldn't have stopped the natural disaster. But had the military junta disbanded in September, it's at least plausible to think the aid might be getting through to the people who need it now. Instead, we are seeing the government stop shipments of food, block visas to UN aid workers, and add to the already incomprehensible death toll.

There's not much more to say really. Except that it's hard to fathom.

1 comment:

brookLyn gaL said...


AND now that a plane with aid has landed, there's still no way to know whether it will actually ever reach the people in need. The death toll is only going to rise due to lack of clean water and food.