Monday, February 18, 2013

Tragedy, Heroes and the Definition of Overreaching

Three days ago, there were two major news stories the media was circulating.

One, a cruise ship that was stranded without power for five days after a fire in the engine room was towed into port.

Two, a meteorite hit Russia, injuring over a thousand people.

The meteorite got less press coverage than the cruise ship, and I'm not exactly understanding why.  That story exposed the very real fact that the Earth currently has no defenses against meteorites, asteroids, comets and other items floating around in space.  Depending on which scientist you listen to, rocks this size hit the Earth once every few years or so, with no prediction to when they will come or where they will hit.  I've heard on the news that we lack the technology to detect them at this size, but I think that's a joke honestly.  We have the technology to spy on individual human beings from outer space, so I'm pretty sure the actual technology exists, it just isn't funded and used for that specific purpose.  

Over a thousand people were injured, a number that certainly would have been higher had the rock hit Earth instead of exploding in the air like it did.  Had the meteorite hit Western Europe or the United States, there would have been a lot more press coverage of it.  Just because this one hit over there doesn't mean the next one will.

Of course, this issue mostly falls into the category of things an average person can't actually worry about because there's not a damn thing we can do about it.  Unless we had billion dollar space science programs to back us up....

As for the cruise ship, I honestly didn't pay much attention to it until it was towed into shore and the newsmedia started referring to the passengers as heroes.  Calling it a tragedy at sea.  I'm pretty sure that's overreaching a bit.  They are people who had a shitty vacation.  People who probably will get vouchers from the cruise line for another cruise.  People who had to wait four hours for a hamburger and sleep on outside decks.

Forgive me, but it's all a bit dramatic.

After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, we didn't have power for 4 days.  The gas lines were shut off longer than that.  We had to boil water for weeks.  We were lucky we had a swimming pool, even if it had huge cracks in the bottom and the water was leaking out, because at least we could use buckets to flush the toilet for the first week.  We slept in the car outside because FEMA hadn't gotten around to assessing whether our house was safe to remain in, with twisted beams holding up the second story.  My brother was very sick at the time, and I dug through broken glass and debris during aftershocks to get his meds, worked with neighbors to get a generator up and running so he could use his nebulizer.

We didn't get any help from the police or the fire department.  Our area's damage didn't even make the press because we were on the other side of the hill from LA county.  No one knew that our school was unsafe to enter for months, that we spent half our senior year splitting schedules with our cross town rival.  Had the quake happened during a school day, hundreds of students would have been killed by collapsing overhangs.

I've lived through worse than what those people on that boat did.  Except I didn't get a few awesome days of vacation first, and no one wanted to interview me on tv.

People around the world live every day in conditions worse than these people endured for a few days.  People in the United States are hungry, have poor sanitation, don't have a proper roof over their heads.

I'm sure that these people had to go through a lot.  I don't mean to diminish the fact that the conditions were probably awful....but these people aren't exactly heroes.  They had a vacation ruined.  They were already with their family and friends.  There was food, though not an abundance of it.  No one died.

They all got off the boat, got fresh water and food immediately.  They got to take hot showers.  They're back in their homes now.  They all had enough extra money to afford a trip that cost that much in the first place.

I think in this country, we need a healthy dose of perspective.  We need a media that doesn't sensationalize transient news stories.  We need a media that gives coverage to the real and legitimate issues facing people here and around the world.

In the United States alone, 17.2 million households are food insecure and over a million children are homeless.

Enough talk about ruined vacations.

7 comments:

  1. In America, most of us are living on the edge of poverty. Should someone loose their job, the house, food, clothing, everything would be in jeopardy...scary

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  2. American news is pathetic at best. When a cruise ship stranded is headline news for days, we're in a downward spiral to who knows what!
    But we love to laugh at the lines they come up with.... Stranded at Sea and Sandy, the aftermath! Hubs and I get a kick out of it. But news it is not.

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  3. This!!! "We have the technology to spy on individual human beings from outer space, so I'm pretty sure the actual technology exists, it just isn't funded and used for that specific purpose."

    We have the weirdest priorities in this country.

    I agree, these people weren't heroes. Heroes run into a burning building to save the baby. These people just experienced some misfortune. There is a difference. We throw the word hero around so much that I think people forget what it actually means.

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  4. it's a huge bummer. it's awfully gross; but it's not news. the fact that no one killed another person or took the ship hostage: that's news. xoxo

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  5. I agreed about why there is not definitive technology to detect these flying objects...

    As for the cruise folks, perspective is the experiences of the "boat people" exodus from Vietnam back in the 70s/80s. I still have bad dreams from time to time from that escape.

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  6. Girl THANK YOU! FOr REALS, y'all. (I've just always wanted to say that!)

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