Thursday, May 15, 2008

One family

I'm going to digress from my usual preachments about usage and better English today. It's been a terrible few days for our fellow humans around the globe. Yesterday, a friend who has family in China sent me some pictures of the devastation that accompanied the earthquake. One picture struck me. It was Chinese firefighters resting before they went back to the grim task of trying to find survivors in the wreckage. They were identical to the pictures of American firefighters during and immediately after our own tragedy on 9/11.

There was also a picture of a woman holding up a crudely printed sign bearing the names of loved ones who were missing. Again, an eerie parallel to what we saw in New York.

And yesterday, I heard the most riveting radio I've listened to in a long time. An NPR reporter in China followed a couple who were looking for their son and his grandparents. I couldn't turn it off, even though it was horrifying when they found all three bodies. The survivors' grief was overwhelming--and universal. I cried just as I did when our own people were weeping.

If there ever has been a time when I felt the unity of the human family, it was through those pictures and that audiotape. And our family in Burma is also suffering; it's just being hidden from us.

What this all has to do with what I normally write about is this. When we are cruel in our words and actions, we're hurting ourselves, too. Because these truly are our brothers and sisters. We may eat different food, observe different customs, worship differently. But if the planet and life on it are to survive, we must be civil to one another. In words and in actions.

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