On the couch with Al Making sense of it all

My couch today seems to be an extremely lonesome place to be. For close to 10 years I have covered the world’s greatest, best and even most gruesome tales, but today a natural disaster is shaking through my whole being. It’s questioning my faith, making me feel extremely small and definitely aching in every part of my body.

I watch the international news wires and it ‘s still incomprehensible how entire families of up to 4 generations ceased to exist in the blink of an eye and how the survivors have been left destitute and aching. They do not even have photo’s of their loved one’s who perished in the huge mass of water.

It’s day 15 and the aftermath is even worse than the actual waves hitting. The stories of children, mothers and other survivors make my body cry with helplessness, but more so due to the fact that I really don’t understand.

Many stories have come to light that have a tinge of irony to them and they will remain with me for a long time to come…
 

  • There’s the story of the unbelievable 6th sense that exists in the animal kingdom. Sri Lanka’s biggest Nature Reserve was also hit, but conservationists are astounded as not even a dead hare was found;
  • Dolphins and Sharks have been found in swimming pools after the Tsunamis;
  • A tale that really hit home with me is that of a little cross-breed mongrel in Sri Lanka and the 5-year old he saved. The toddler’s mother and siblings were fleeing into the hills to safety, when he turned around to to and hide in their beach hut. The mongrel turned on his heel, sped to the hut and managed to pull the child some 150 meters far to safety.
  • And even South Africa felt the brunt of the Tsunamis. 10 South Africans were killed, 6 are still missing and feared dead and hundreds still unaccounted for. From Kwazulu-Natal to Cape Point unusually big swells and rough seas were also reported.

There have also been many things that really astounded and shocked me…
 

  • This morning I received an image of the alleged second wave hitting Thailand. It’s awesome, unbelievable and quite remarkable. The shock however was not in the picture itself, but the fact that it’s a picture of Honolulu, Hawaii and the wave the artistic touch by a very capable person with an accomplished airbrush technique! Why?
  • Newspapers also printed the most horrific of pictures of the dead on front-pages and then tried to justify their actions. They’ve however forgotten that newspapers are family items and even our children glance at them. I had to explain to my 5-year old who the people in that picture are, why their bodies are blue and swollen and why I would buy something so gruesome…
  • My e-mail Inbox has also been swamped with attachments, showing the devastation and death in the Tsunami-hit region. I however cannot help wonder how one can stand-by clicking away and not lend a hand?

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent Tsunamis have however also broadened my knowledge.
 

  • One such was establishing the difference between a Tsunami and a Tidal Wave and why the one can never be the other. The walls of water that smashed into South East Asia and Eastern Africa were caused by a massive shift of tectonic plates under the Indian Ocean, making them Tsunamis. The word is borrowed from Japan, where earthquakes are common — even though it literally means “harbour wave”. Tidal waves on the other hand are caused by the moon’s pull, which creates tidal phenomena.

There’s one last thing I’d like to share with you:

I’ve never particularly liked politicians, believing everything they utter is done for a reason other than that which is actually being said. Yesterday the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair however managed to restore some of my cynicism .

He had no time for thinking, consulting or writing answers down – he was literally put on the spot by the media, live on international telly and managed to restore some sense of faith in me personally.

Mr Blair was asked how the Tsunami-disaster has tested his faith in God. His answer, straight, without much thought was:
 

“It’s impossible to realise that there are terrible things happening in our world everyday. When we talk about Africa – that is a preventable disaster . Thousands of children die needlessly in Africa everyday. Four million people have died over the last 5 years in the Congo alone through famine, conflict and disease. So, if your faith was to be rocked by a terrible natural disaster, it would be rocked by what is happening, maybe without the same visibility, in other parts of the world daily. What my faith helps me do is I say we have to redouble our efforts to do what we can to help not only the victims of a force of nature, but also the victims of the failure of man. That is why I think it is important to take some of the extraordinary spirit people have shown over the past two weeks and say how do we use that in order to awaken people’s feelings respect of what can be prevented in terms of tragedy and catastrophe in our world. That means Africa is the focus.”

My question however remains: “Why?”

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