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2005: Stay The Course
Taran Rampersad, 1 Jan 05

I had the opportunity to use that phrase this afternoon and last night, and I think it's important to say it here as well - Stay The Course. I've been silently looking on in many places here in our global village, helping where I can - much like many others have. It's all we can do.

The disaster is incredible. The lives lost are counted in quantity, and not necessarily in quality here on the internet. A father moans the loss of a son, a son moans the loss of a mother... a woman mourns the loss of her entire family, and these are all real - and the permutations are inescapable. Countries around the world reel under the impact of a tidal wave in one region - in a world where we can travel to distant shores in a matter of hours, many countries had citizens on these distant shores as well. The losses are felt around the world.

Great ideas have come from contributors around the world - including here at, and continue to come in. The sheer humanity of the effort is credited by the contributions of people around the world - not necessarily the governments, but the people. In an answering to the cries for help, there are cries to give help. Technology we now have available empowers us; SMS, HAM Radio, telephones, email, weblogs, Wikis... the list goes on. And yet all of these technologies have become transparent in the face of such great human need; they become extensions of our society - wielded by people who care.

As the death toll rises, it's easy to focus on the numbers who have died. These numbers are staggering; they make us aware of the fragility of our society and - perhaps - make us worry that it would happen to us. It might even make some survivors feel guilty that they should be the ones who have survived; farewells to loved ones may well have been outstretched hands as they were swept away.

Dwelling on these numbers is depressing, and the fact that it was possible to avoid many of these deaths has already made it into the mainstream press. In such a disaster, we sometimes look for people to blame as our grief turns to rage. In the case of government failures, these issues need to be addressed - but not right now. Right now we must focus on the living; we must dwell on the lives saved instead of the lives lost. We must stay the course; not of last year or the year before - but the course that humanity has charted over the centuries.

We have found that something greater than ourselves - with a simple shrug of it's mantle - can wreak as much or even more havoc than our own weapons against each other. United, we try to help those fallen.

Many are tired. Those that are on the internet and coordinating activities as well as the person helplessly glued to the television and radio must be tired - and perhaps numb - by now. The people who sit next to their phones like expectant fathers, awaiting word of loved ones in the affected regions must be tired, as every moment seems to rob them of a small part of hope.

Yet there is much work to do. The living remain our priority. We cannot save every life, but we must try to save as many as we can - this is the mantra of our human response to disasters.

For every first hand account we read, there is a life that remains. This is what we are working toward; more first hand accounts. Every voice that speaks of this in the future will be a voice that lived; and we can continue to do this using our technologies to extend our humanity. Each life we save is a victory. We must celebrate every life.

When all the living are cared for, it is time to address what went wrong. We must find out why people were not warned, and we must fix that. We must find out if it's possible if we helped cause the earthquake, and we must remedy that if it is true.

With 2005 here, it's important that we stay our course and continue our efforts in these regards. Be it through money, or our physical help, or simply discussing things and coming up with new ideas. We've done it, we need to continue doing it.

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The disaster is incredible, the lives lost are counted....

But I feel that only those who are struck by this event and survived it can measure its effect really.... the loss of lives is not measurable by numbers. The emotions just run way too high.

But then again: KNOWING that the ones you lost are dead is a certainty that is a relief in its own sarcastic way. But the uncertainty of "people missing" is devastating.... are they alive, are they not?

I have friends travelling India. They left a week before the disaster. We haven't heard from then since.... We don't evenknow for sure that they might be in an affected area at the time... they were to visit nine places duribg their stay.... we had no contact with them since.... are they alive, are they dead... we don't know...
I tried all I could to find out. Our national helpcentre: "Sorry, they have Indian nationality, we can't help you". The Indian embassy: "Try these phonenumbers in Delhi"....
In Delhi: '"There's just so little info to go on.... I'll try but...." Their factory: "Sorry, we're closed until january 3, can't help you any further..." Their home phone: unanswered... of course. Their mobile: unanswered too.... E-mail: the same....

Until now we didn't get any sign of them: are they alive? Are they not? We still don't know. And then: these are just friends.... suppose they were relatives? Than the matter would be more urgent, more .... more of anything....

I just hope a few things: that the people who survived this know already or know very soon what happened to their beloved ones, and that they'll somehow be able to cope with all this.

I helped the way I could, I transferred money to an aid-account, and I sympathize with the victims. All of them. And I'm really sorry that that's all I can do.... I hope it is enough.

But in my feeling it is not. Not by any remote chance.... Oh God, I wish I could do more......

I wish.....

Posted by: softspot on 1 Jan 05

It seems you've done all you can, softspot... I hope your friends are OK.

Posted by: Taran on 1 Jan 05



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