Dude! Surf’s up in Sri Lanka!
While the pope was busy collecting adjectives for his Christmas Day speech to the world, the world itself was busy rubbing a few tectonic plates together six miles beneath the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.When the geosphere began to rupture early a week ago Sunday morning on that side of the planet, killing more in 10 minutes than Osama types in 10 years, some Americans were still opening gifts and toasting eggnog in celebration of an omnipotent deity.Trying to rationalize an explanation for that one to a child is like flushing a needle tied to fishing line down my toilet to catch a trout in the Eagle River.By bedtime Christmas night, my youngest son (almost 6) asked me “how many is 5,000,” which was the estimated death toll at that point in time.My first inclination was to compare it to September 11th, as the numbers were in the same general vicinity, thus allowing a more personal (albeit strictly American) angle of perception.”It’s almost twice the number of innocent people as died in New York City a few years ago.””Wow,” he said. “Sometimes people get sick and then they die, like MorFar (granddad in Danish).””Yes, they do. But these people didn’t get sick or anything. They were just hanging out at the beach, driving their cars, doing laundry, watching TV. You know, just basic everyday stuff. But then they were there one moment and gone the next.””What’s innocent mean?”I gave him a look of temporary confusion. The kid does that to me from time to time.”You said they were ‘innocent’ people. What kind of person is that?””Someone who didn’t deserve to die,” I immediately replied.”Who deserves to die?” he asked while nonchalantly playing with a new Power Ranger Megazord.A few names quickly shot through my sardonic skull, but seeing absolutely no purpose whatsoever to conducting a quick lesson in cynicism to a child, I remained momentarily silent.”No one,” I finally said. “No one really deserves to die. Now go say goodnight to Grandmother and Granddad, your brothers, the dog and Mommy, and then get into bed.”I lay in my own bed for a few hours afterwards, my head spinning from the words of a truly “innocent.””Who deserves to die,'” I kept asking myself over and over. If they were all innocent, does that mean none were guilty of ever doing anything bad? If they were guilty, did they then deserve to perish under such tragic circumstances? If “less” tragic, would it then be justifiable?I concluded then and there that someone, or some thing, must take the blame for Mother Nature’s wrath, as our culture demands responsibility be laid at a doorstep each time the unconscionable occurs.It has to be someone’s fault, right?Jerry Falwell will probably blame the atheists, pagans, abortionists, gays and the ACLU, as he originally did for September 11th. Those even further to the right will quietly say it was “God’s will” and that’s why it happened over on the “Muslim side” of the world.Meanwhile, Muslims will find a way to blame the United States of America, of course, and more specifically, George W. Bush, because surely he could have done something to alter the tsunami’s course but chose not to in order to exterminate more Muslims. Hindus, which comprise many of the dead, will choose from a thousand different deities to hold responsible, while a smattering of other supreme beings along with Buddha will eventually be obliged to accept some level of answerability.Worthless political groups immediately made it a political issue, such as moveon.org, which took to the airwaves before the first head count of dead bodies was completed proclaiming the Bush administration’s “failures to properly react,” whatever the hell that means. Silly groups like ELF will blame global warming and mankind in principal for its existence.The media will be blamed for sensationalizing the tragedy, especially by printing headlines as tasteless and callous as this one. They will appeal to the spiritual new-agers of the world by making a big deal out of the “miracle of the animals” nonsense, claiming the critters must possess a “sixth sense” for impending doom. Forget the fact that this completely ignores the reality of the animal kingdom lacking rational and cognitive thought and thus are incapable of having their tiny little minds cluttered with all the crap that we humans inundate ourselves with on a daily basis, leading to tiny nuances of intuitional perception moments before we do, allowing them to react to the natural impulse to flee first.Therefore in reality all the media will be doing is reporting the event to the best of their ability. And let’s face it, there is a point, especially when the death toll continues to rise above unimaginable levels like it has now, that we begin to ignore the mass of dead bodies and allow them to become only so many repetitive statistics.We need to accept the fact that this horrible event is a simple act of nature, one that has occurred tens of thousands of times over the last few billion years, and will continue no matter who or what is in charge. We populated the planet, not the other way around.Instead of wasting time pointing blame, let’s concentrate on helping those in need however we can. It’s the least we “innocents” can do. Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.comVail, Colorado