Friday, August 20, 2010

Pakistan flood disaster

So, I need to underscore that, today, we're doing what we're doing for Pakistan out of pure humanitarian need. There's one other point I would like to make which is extremely important, and it was made today by both the foreign minister, Qureshi, and Dr. Rajiv Shah, the head of AID, USAID, at the Asia Society Conference this morning of NGOs.

They both said that this was a manifestation of global warming, that the melt off the Himalayan glaciers they both thought it was possibly linked to the fires outside Moscow. And Dr. Shah said very clearly that he thinks the world should expect more of this kind of event.

I know that sounds almost like a science fiction movie, but I think it's worth your viewers recognizing that we're at the... we're... we may be in the process of seeing a dangerous new trend. I'm not sure about that. Our focus tonight is emergency rescue and relief, but I thought that's important to mention.
--US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke on PBS Newshour, August 20, 2010
At times, the allure of head-in-the-sand obliviousness is like a verdant oasis amid the endless dunes of Sahara.  Especially when one contemplates the nightmare unfolding in Pakistan.  But, just as the lush green of a desert mirage proves phantasmal, so does our attempt to limit our own awareness prove futile and pointless.  Folks, it's out there:  hell on Earth.  And it's coming our way.

End times?  Well, as much as I want to avoid going off the deep end into eschatological panic, at some point we might just have to face up to it:  the gift of our existence, our time as a species, may be expiring.  No need to recount all the unprecedented disasters that pile up, with horrifying and accelerating frequency, one on top of the other.  We can all see what is happening.

Twenty million people in Pakistan are left homeless from the floods that are occurring now, at the beginning of the monsoon season. For those of us lucky enough to live in a calm and peaceful part of the world, that is unimaginable suffering

My employer is donating to the Pakistan Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and is urging myself and my coworkers to do the same.  I'll be writing a check forthwith. Should you, dear reader, be so inclined, you can make online donations here:
Or, you can donate through your cell phone, as described here:
The other day, as I was walking around the neighborhood, a cry of distress roused me out of my ambulatory reverie.  I looked up and saw a middle-aged woman crouched down on the sidewalk, next to a man, presumably her husband, who was stretched out, full-length on the concrete.  He had just fallen, flat on his face.  The woman was panicked.

Myself, some bike riders, and several other pedestrians dashed across the street to help.  It turned out that the old gentleman had tripped on the uneven walkway, but was unhurt.  Initial fears of cardiac arrest or some other catastrophe were unfounded.  We helped him to his feet, dusted him off, and dispersed.  But I came away from the incident buoyed by the responses of the people at the scene. 

I'll tell you, folks, I haven't given up hope that we still have a promising future ahead of us.  But, if we are entering the Final Days, if humanity has crossed the point of no return, all that is left to us is to choose how it will end.

If I may, I'd like to suggest that we face whatever is to come nobly, with compassion for each other, for ourselves.  When we see people in need, whether it is an old gentleman on the sidewalk along Division Street, or twenty million desperate Pakistanis, let's do what comes naturally.


Dan Binmore said...

Human beings have survived climate as warm as is predicted, and also ice ages with nothing more than stone tools. End time talk is nutty.

On the other hand global warming will probably kill more people in the upcoming century than anything else, so we should get about fixing it.

Dade, I can guarantee that you will be still living in a nice house, with all sorts of gadgets, and more food than you can eat all the way up until you get put in a home for being senile.

Anonymous said...

Well, there are end times and there are end times. A few thousand people in China and Pakistan met their end times this past week or so due to natural disasters.

It is always the have-nots and chronically impoverished who seem to suffer most from the natural disasters. So, from our fat-cat vantage point in the US, it's easy to believe that we will never be devastated like the people in Pakistan.

And if you believe that, review the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina visited upon the MOSTLY BLACK citizens of NOLA. Martial law happened very quickly and stacks of supplies were never distrubted.

NONETHELESS -- I personally continue to believe in the innate goodness of humans, albeit we are lazy f***ers, too, and can get complacent with a good glass of 3-buck-chuck and the ability to pontificate via a warm laptop. (like right now:)

Thanks for allowing your tendency to rush to help to come through.