Thursday, February 24, 2011
Heartsick for the south
Each week on my TV show, Let's Talk, I have a minute or two to voice an opinion piece. I write it on Tuesday, record it on Wednesday and it gets aired on Friday. I can't even remember now what I was sitting down to write when I first heard the news about Christchurch. Something, I think, about how the media had so comprehensively ignored Auckland's lovely Chinese Lantern Festival.
The earthquake wiped all normal preoccupations from my mind. From everyone's minds. Those of us who don’t live in Canterbury could only gaze in shock at the TV, listen to the radio, and be so, so grateful that we were not ourselves involved.
The whole country came to a standstill as everyone struggled to absorb the scale of the destruction and injury and death that had struck so suddenly on an otherwise so- average Tuesday afternoon.
The human casualties were the worst but the symbolic toppling of the cathedral spire must have been like a knife in the heart for those who love that city.
But then something else happened. For good things do come out of times like this. Love rises. Compassion swells. Ordinary people discover what extraordinary strengths they possess. And everybody, just everybody, wants to help.
As New Zealanders we sometimes feel that we live in a little country where not much happens. Something really big happened last Tuesday. Lots of terrible things are happening on Planet Earth right now, but we don’t have time to pay much attention to anything else. For this is our country’s pain. Our country’s challenge. Our country’s current mountain of trouble.
When all we can hear are the voices of pain and loss, no one wants to hear about lessons learnt, but I guess there’s just one small one – the pictures we're seeing might at least prompt some more of us to finally take serious and sober notice of those television civil defence ads in case, sometime, it’s our turn.
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