Here’s the thing. What happened in Joplin, Missouri, is a terrible, terrible display of what nature is capable of. Here’s what I don’t understand: we say this every time.
Remember Haiti? No? Oh. Bummer. It’s been a little over a year since the earthquake, and we’ve pretty much all forgotten enough to redirect our Red Cross text messaging donations to the next most devastating disaster. (I’m not against donating money or aid, hence the link to the Red Cross donation page. I just think we’re a little misguided.)
There was the tsunami in Sri Lanka, there was Hurricane Katrina, the Icelandic volcano eruption. Earlier this year, we witnessed the horrific Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami and aftershocks. Why are we consistently surprised at the magnitude of these disasters? We know that Earth and her elements are capable of taking us out at any given moment.
Why the extra drama? I know the answer to that question — drama and heartbreak and the plight of the people sell. There’s a reason this image has become one of the most iconic of the Great Depression. We’ve always had a sick fascination with examining the downfall and despair of other people.
I guess what I’m asking for is an overhaul of news media. Disasters happen and they’re sad, but the news is supposed to be unbiased. Maybe that makes me a little cold, to want my reporters and anchors to be stoic in the presentation of events such as these. But separating emotions from facts will allow me to develop completely my own feelings about the terrible things that happen in this world on a daily basis.
Because, in fact, I do care. I care that people everywhere experience horrors every single day, but we only hear about a handful of them. It would surely take up the entire 24-hour news cycle to report on every flood, every tremor, every explosion. Maybe that’s what we need, though, to remind us (Americans, yeah, I’m talking to you) that we are all the same.