EDITORIAL by Oliver Mbamara
Once a while in life and human history, an event of global proportion occurs. From the most developed to the underdeveloped countries, no human community is immune from disasters whether natural or man-made. From the US 2005 Hurricane Katrina and 2012 Sandy Super-storm and the 1996 Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion in Ukrainian SSR, to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. While some disasters happen in ways that allow man to directly deal with them, others (especially the health related ones) bring hampering questions with them. Whether it is the Polio trials, Tuskegee syphilis experiment, Aids epidemic, Cholera breakout in Haiti after UN encampment, or the now emerging Ebola outbreak, opinions vary as to there origins, there true purposes, and the way they are handled. Disasters/epidemics often disrupt normal ways of life in affected communities, and there are human, economic, and material losses that put such communities in positions of need for help and assistance.
At such times the resilience of the human spirit (and compassion) is put to test. Mankind is reminded that love matters above all else and we are given the chance to either be the best we can be and take the high road of love or to take the other road less worthy. There will be those who propagate fear and blow matters out of proportion just to create situations that will favor their politics, their business, and their media ratings.
At such times, some would do all they can and even put their lives on the line to help or save the lives of others. Some would take it as a test of their calling knowing that there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another. Yet, there will be those who see such times as an opportunity to exploit others and take advantage of profit making ventures in the situation. Those who see no reason or purpose in selfless service for the welfare of others.
There will be those in the press/media who will report true facts and helpful information with an intent to help the people learn, heal, and triumph over the challenges of the situation. Yet, there will be those who would twist the stories and only highlight and report the aspects of events that will bring them high ratings and please their audience.
There will be politicians who will put politics aside and be genuinely concerned with the safety of lives and the plights of affected individuals and families, even if it is politically risky. Yet, there will be those politicians who would be more concerned with being politically correct, exploiting the event to attack their opponents and seeking to score cheap political points to please their constituencies, party affiliations, or sponsors at the expense of the sufferings and ill-fortune of the victims and their families.
This piece seeks to thank all those individuals, media outlets, and organizations who take the high road of love, compassion, and selflessness at times of human crisis. Those who volunteer to help even when they know their lives are at risk. Those who share and donate funds or resources to help those in need. And those who highlight and encourage the goodness of mankind and the human spirit at such trying times. Whether one chooses to be compassionate or careless about the plight of others in the face of trying situations is a personal choice. The opportunity to be the best we can be is what lies beyond it all, and in the end what matters is Love.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Oliver Oscar Mbamara is an attorney & admin judge, an award-winning filmmaker, actor, poet, and a published writer. For more on Oliver Mbamara, visit www.OliverMbamara.com
NOTE: The thoughts expressed here are personal and do not represent the thoughts of any other person, organization, or religion. However, the thoughts of the writer may have been influenced by his cultural background, understanding of life and the teachings of his religion.
References & Sources
Indian Ocean Tsunami, Dec. 26, 2004
it killed nearly 230,000 people and displaced some 1.7 million more.
Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season
More than 1,800 people lost their lives
China's 1976 Tangshan quake
official death toll there was placed at 255,000,
On earthquakes in China, the most vivid images may be of the recent 2008 Sichuan earthquake. That quake killed 69,000 people, but while the Sichuan quake was deadly, it can't compare with China's 1976 Tangshan quake.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake
By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake. Death toll estimates range from 100,000 to about 160,000 to Haitian government figures from 220,000 to 316,000
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
On March 24, 1989, 260,000 to 750,000 barrels of crude oil was spilled in Prince William Sounds, Alaska by the oil tanker Exxon Valdez after it ran into Bligh Reef. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human caused environmental disasters with both the long-term and short-term effects of the oil spill having been studied. Immediate effects included the deaths of 100,000 to as many as 250,000 seabirds, at least 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 247 Bald Eagles, and 22 Orcas, and an unknown number of salmon and herring.
In 1956, Chisso Corporation’s industrial wastewater containing methylmercury was released into Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea; 2,265 fatalities are recognized as a direct consequence to this polluting even
The Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion (Ukrainian SSR [Soviet Union]1996)
known as the worst nuclear power plant incident in history. Cancers, deformities and other long term illnesses were the scars of not only human inhabitants but of animals as well.
Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, March 11, 2011
Although no short term radiation exposure fatalities were reported, some 300,000 people evacuated the area, 15,884 (as of 10 February 2014) people died due to the earthquake and tsunami, and as of August 2013 approximately 1,600 deaths were related to the evacuation conditions, such as living in temporary housing and hospital closures.