Last night / early this morning, there was an 8.8 earthquake in Chile. As Kris and I went to bed last night, there were no deaths reported, no pictures to see, no coverage to read, just a tweet and a single AP announcement of the earthquake.
This morning, however, the coverage was overwhelming. Aside from hundreds of tweets in my following stream alone, there were pictures available, tsunami warnings for California, tsunami alarms for Hawaii, serious coverage about the devastation in Chile.
So much so that no one will notice the 7.2 earthquake in Japan that happened yesterday, too.
Between the Chile and the 6.8 in Haiti last month, the awareness of catastrophic occurrences and other smaller, but still significant, disasters increases.
And at some point, weariness sets in.
I may have been one of the three people in the United States who didn't contribute to the Haiti disaster relief. I chose not to contribute for many reasons:
1. The first response from Haiti was "Don't send clothes and food, send money."
The people most in need of help cannot eat money. Money won't keep them warm at night, or keep mosquitos from spreading disease. I felt the reaction was, "Hot damn, disaster! Let's milk it!"
2. The government bled the people dry, and continue to milk it.
The country is the poorest in the western hemisphere. The government bled the people dry, continues to bleed the people dry, and, as above, will milk the disaster to continue to receive funds they have not earned and will not put to good use.
I dislike immensely those who use power for personal gains instead of helping the people who gave them power to begin with. I dislike those who use power to stay in power, and decline to help them.
3. Donating $10 via text means the phone company gets $2 off the top.
If I wanted to give money to T-Mobile, I'd write a check. I don't want to give money to an already crappy industry.
But back to the weariness that will surely set in.
In 2005, at the end of March, an 8.7 earthquake, possibly an aftershock of the 9.0 from the previous December, hit Indonesia. The December earthquake killed more than 250,000 people with the tsunami triggered by the earthquake; this March one another 1000.
In August, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. While the deathtoll was a "mere" 1800 people, tens of thousands were homeless, and millions without "modern comforts" of electricity, roads, and communication.
Soon after that, wildfires raged in California. four more hurricanes fell, killing another couple thousand people in Central America. A landslide buried an entire town in Guatemala. A 7.6 earthquake in the Kashmir region killed another 80,000 people in early October, leaving 4 million people homeless.
By the time the October disasters were happening, no one cared except those immediately affected by the earthquake. The U.S. (and I would project the world) had grown weary of going from one disaster to another, sending money from this event to that event.
I feel like these earthquakes are going to do much the same. Weariness is going to set in. You can handle only so much disaster before you can no longer give, not longer care. Only so much before it becomes just another tragedy.
And that's the biggest tragedy of all.