15 May 2008

Children in China


Being desensitized by so many stories about natural disasters and suffering should not happen, but it does. Every once in a while, though, a story comes along that really hits home. This week I have been totally demoralized by the collapse of approximately 6,900 schools in China, and the loss of so many children. To think that the great majority of them are only children, without brothers or sisters, and that in certain villages this means the loss of an entire generation, is too much for me to grasp. My friend Lily in China has told me that many of the surviving parents will be allowed to have another child, but that won't bring back a lost generation. I am sure the government never foresaw a situation like this when it implemented such strict family planning policies, and even though I know most people favor these policies, it is times like these that they only compound misery.

Here in Ecuador children are overabundant and can be seen and felt everywhere in great moving masses. Although I often wish I could stop them from growing up so fast so that somebody could provide better care and education for so many of them, seeing their laughing faces as they move to and from school still brings a sense of security and joy. Not being able to see or feel hardly any of them while in China caused a lasting impression on me. The society felt all grown up and mature on one hand and futureless and somber on the other. This must make the current tragedy all the more unbearable.

My condolences and prayers for the departed and the survivors.

4 comments:

Tricia said...

This is a story that has really captured my attention this week as well. I feel so sad for the parents that have lost their children. I can imagine surviving almost anything but the loss of my daughter. My heart is so heavy imagining their grief. It seems callous to just go on with my day when I see a picture like this one. But there is so little else we can do. I do wish that we in the U.S. were reacting with some public display of our condolences. It is so crazy to me that people hold vigils and create memorials in the park when Princess Di is killed, but this kind of tragedy is hardly mentioned. Perhaps it is just too scary to contemplate.

iguana said...

I have been thinking about how to answer you, Trish, and several things come to mind. Here in the "third" world death is a fact of life much more so than in the US of A. I lived in the States for approximately 20 years and never went to a funeral. Here, they are commonplace and I have been to a good number. Of course, this implies all too clearly that my children, wife or even myself could become a victim of any number of things that just are not a threat in the States. This has made me reflect on living here more than once, believe me. It has also helped me come to peace, at least somewhat, with death just because I have given it deep thought and because I am exposed to it almost daily here. Undoubtedly, however, if I were confronted with the death of one of my family members, I would probably not act as if I were so at peace. I have also thought about how I am an only child and how hard that must be for my parents. Having three children comforts me in this sense, although it isn't an answer or cure or anything similar.

I totally agree that people prefer to idolize certain "heroes" and ignore far greater tragedies. The only way that changes is when people suffer something similar and learn to feel empathy. In this sense suffering opens our minds and in a lot of ways makes us better people. However, like you say, what do you do with your empathy? Can we just go on with our lives or should we change something? I don't know for sure, but putting empathy to increased action through service to others that are in situations nearly as tragic as these Chinese parents helps me feel that their children's death isn't in vain.

iguana said...

Let me put this tragedy into perspective in another way. It's as if approximately half of all of the primary schools in Ecuador collapsed. When a smallish percentage of schools collapse people don't really take notice, but the number is nonetheless astronomical. If half of the primary schools collapsed in a country, then people would really sit up and take notice.

kattyscoggin said...

Espero no tener problemas al dar mi opinion en espanol...Me siento mas comoda haciendolo asi...
El articulo me gusto mucho y ojala como todos tus articulos siga generando reflexion, preguntas y acciones a levantarse y hacer algo...
Es evidente que las personas no saben hacia donde dirigirse, hacia donde llevar sus reflexiones o preguntas del por que de muchas cosas; pero ojala por lo menos la INVESTIGACION DE LA VERDAD, buscando las razones de lo que pasa en el mundo y lo que cada ser humano puede hacer y aportar sea un primer paso...ojala dejemos de preguntar una vez mas por que suceden las cosas..ojala nos tomemos un tiempo para ir mas alla de lo que sucede en nuestra vida y veamos el sufrimeitno de los demas como nuestro...
Gracias Justin por la oportunidad de abrir este espacio para cuestionarnos muchas cosas...
Tengo mucho por leer..estoy disfrutando mucho tu blog...ademas que viene de ti, alguien que respeto y admiro mucho..y eso tiene un gran peso..