The good side of calamities

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By Andy H. Hagad

Bottom Line

Monday, March 24, 2014


TWO calamities in very recent memories have caused people a lot of anguish and emotional pain. These were Typhoon Yolanda which practically flattened the Province of Leyte, and now the current drama of Malaysian Airlines MH370. Three weeks ago, the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur bound for China – and then mysteriously disappeared, baffling not only the Malaysians but the rest of the world.

Typhoon Yolanda roared into central Philippines and took the life of at least eight thousand Filipinos, killing entire families and leaving thousands more orphaned. Half of the passengers in MH 370 were Chinese; the rest were a mixture of Malaysians, Europeans and passengers of other nationalities. Like many survivors of Yolanda who up to now have not found the remains of their loved ones, what scorches the hearts of the passengers’ families is the uncertainty of their fate. Alive or dead, what is important to the grieving families is that they can know for sure what happened, and put a closure to their sorrow.

These calamities have caused pain, yes. But Yolanda and Flight No. MH370 have also united a world wracked in political wrangling, wars, international corruption and border-crossing crime. When Mother Nature decimated the Philippines and when circumstances unknown caused the Malaysian airplane to disappear, nations forgot that they were enemies.
Military and business competitors, and the nations’ leaders standing at different sides of the political spectrum joined hands with ordinary citizens to help the victims and their families. For once, Capitalists and Communists worked side by side extending aid to the Philippines; the powerful United States of America and the definitely-weaker Republic of the Philippines voluntarily scoured areas where Flight MH 370 may have disappeared, in tandem with planes and ships of China, Australia, New Zealand. During these brief moments of trial, the “one-people, one-world” feeling prevailed.

Calamities hurt; but it seems they also unite people. Maybe nations and their leaders should look inward every time they get together to help the suffering. And pay more attention to the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in the joining of hands. And realize that we do not need calamities in order to be friends and helpful neighbors.

The astronauts who have orbited the earth have discovered what should be obvious to us all, but isn’t. That ours is only one world. That we all belong to and are stuck together inside one planet. That there is no division of the world into countries, states and communities. That we are actually, the billions of us, only one orb within the space we call the Solar System.

Calamities like Yolanda and Flight MH370 provide us a glimpse of what these astronauts are seeing and saying. Let’s hope the time is near when we can gaze at our world through their eyes, too.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 24, 2014.

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