The tsunami. I'm getting letters, from all over the world, asking why I haven't mentioned the biggest natural disaster in our lifetime. For days now, I've been meaning to say something, trying to find the right words, but honestly don't know what to say in the face of such devastation. And regular readers know I'm rarely speechless.
I usually start my day by checking Google News. Back when the death toll was at 20,000, I thought it must be a type-o. I mean, I could see 200 deaths. Maybe even 2,000. But 20,000 couldn't possibly be right. Yet it was .. and that was just the beginning. What I'm saying is that I'm having trouble comprehending the magnitude of this thing.
So I apologize if I seem callous. I can see how one might get that impression. I'm trying to grapple with the impact of this disaster. Maybe this is why I've tried to post content that is uplifting and light-hearted the last few days.
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I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years, back when I was in the Navy (stationed on a nuke sub home-ported at Pearl Harbor). So I'm familiar with the term tsunami [from the Japanese tsu (harbor) nami (wave)]. The name itself sounds rather ominous.
I've stood on the North shore (of Oahu, at Waimea), with hundreds of others, while storms raged at sea, and watched the 30-footers come rolling in .. one after the other .. for hours .. so loud you couldn't hear the person standing next to you .. unless he shouted in your ear. So I'm also familiar with the power of the ocean.
Nevertheless, I feel woefully inadequate to express my sympathies. They seem so insignificant in relation to such devastation. And things just seem to be getting worse. But I think about it a lot. And those of us who live near the coast, especially those of us who live in California, realize it could've just as easily been us.
Those who reside in affected countries should know the entire world has been moved by this tragedy .. in a big way. If the rest of the world feels anything like I do, I suspect they are also somewhat overwhelmed the magnitude of this thing, and trying to grapple with how to understand it.
Can't mention the tsunami without asking, where was God during all this? If there's anything that falls under his jurisdiction, it would be natural phenomena. I mean, he supposedly designed and created the whole thing.
Everybody I know has contributed as they are able. We are sending letters to our senators and congressmen asking they do more. I only wish I could do more myself. (I feel inadequate to help in a way that will be meaningful.) We have Colin Powell on the job, and he is one of the most competent people in Washington. Those who likewise feel compelled are encouraged to HELP. Our prayers are with you and help is on the way. Hang in there.
A map of the earthquake's source and the surrounding countries affected is posted here. The BBC has posted a simplified animated guide. Here is a Flash animation. The videos are simply incredible (need Bittorent). The most comprehensive explanation of what happened can be found at Wikipedia (source here). See here for a timeline of events. Here's a Google search for the term: tsunami.