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Tony Grist

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A Change Of Mood [Jan. 3rd, 2005|10:52 am]
Tony Grist
I used to write sermons for a living and I'm liable, if I don't keep a check on myself, to slide into pulpit rhetoric.

Which is one good reason for not writing too much about the tsunami. I don't trust myself not to be cheap.

But there's just this one thing I want to say: the public mood has changed. For the past couple of years it's been Them and Us and War against Terror and ugly, ugly, ugly, and now, suddenly, it's Brotherhood of Man. Westerner and Easterner, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, believer and secularist- we're all in this together.

And wonderful things have happened. Pakistan sent aid to its old enemy India, national leaders have discovered that there are votes in being kind and the warplanes and warships are being used to carry food and medicine and water.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: butterscotch711
2005-01-03 04:42 am (UTC)
Yeah, but... Colin Powell was just on my TV saying that America wants to help victims of the tsunami because it will help fight terrorism.

The UN is saying it will take a decade to deal with this thing and rebuild. It would be really, really wonderful if the world could be compassionate for a full decade.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 05:39 am (UTC)
I don't see the compassion lasting that long. Human societies don't have much of an attention span.

That was a crass thing for Powell to say, but there's probably some truth to it. If the USA is seen as a benefactor, rather than a policeman, it should make it harder for the terror organisations to recruit.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-01-03 06:19 am (UTC)
I heard on some news program that the tsunami area is rife with terrorist operatives, and that they will be approaching young men and boys who are alone and vulnerable.

Once they are in, they can't get out.

I wish the United Nations would make a permanent presence in that area, a clearinghouse for aid and stability, a campus of buildings that could provide medical care, food and clothing, education, and that could be a focal point and symbol of world caring.

Has the United Nations yet been heard from? What are they planning?

I worry that this will be yet another war zone--us against the terrorists, yet again. Perhaps that could be avoided by a benevolent and powerful presence there.

Naively, I still hope that such a trauma can lead (by small steps) to a united government--

If we ever DO have a united world government, surely it will begin as an answer to a terrible trauma such as this, which shifts our perspective from that of predators to that of humanitarians.




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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 06:51 am (UTC)
"I heard on some news program that the tsunami area is rife with terrorist operatives, and that they will be approaching young men and boys who are alone and vulnerable."

I think the news progam is scare-mongering. I really do. I think it's putting a US government spin on what's happening over there.

The US government wants eveything to be about the War on Terror. Even this.

There's a certain elbowing for position going on between the U.N. and the U.S. as to who is master-minding the relief effort. So long as the work gets done who cares who's in charge!

The people have shamed their governments. Here in Britain private giving is outrunning government giving. Politicians- used to playing it tough and mean- have been caught on the hop and are racing to align themselves with the new mood of generosity.

I do think this trauma will make a difference. 9/11 swung the world towards conflict and confrontation and this is swinging us back the other way.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-01-03 07:00 am (UTC)
I do think this trauma will make a difference. 9/11 swung the world towards conflict and confrontation and this is swinging us back the other way.

I hope you are right. The current paranoia is sickening us all.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 07:27 am (UTC)
I think the paranoia has lifted. At least it has over here. For over a week now there's been no news except news of the tsunami. The politicians and their cunningly spun webs of fear have been brushed aside- almost with contempt.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-01-03 07:37 am (UTC)
I think (sniffing the air) that it's true here, too!

Like we live in a bell jar and the lid has been lifted for a moment. I hope it will last.

Bush just talked: he gave us website addresses where we could send money.

A bit late--most of us have already been sending money--it's so little to do, and if we lived closer, I know (because we do this all the time for regional disasters, as I'm sure you do, too) we'd be piling blankets and water bottles and canned goods onto trucks.

Last night I saw a woman sitting alone on a Southeast Asia beach, looking out to sea. A commentator said many people sit by the water, waiting for their children to return to them.

I have felt grief in my life, but not like that. I can't even imagine it. Sending money seems so useless, when I wish so much I could put a blanket around that woman and just sit beside her.

We are all, I think, waking up to a sense of family that we had forgotten. As you said.

It is in the air. If only it will last.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 10:13 am (UTC)
The people are setting the pace and Bush is playing catch-up.

Our own Foreign Secretary gave a press conference this morning to say that the British government will match private giving pound for pound. He sounded slightly sheepish and defensive.



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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-01-03 12:24 pm (UTC)
The people are setting the pace and Bush is playing catch-up.


I think Bush should take all the money he is intending to spend on his inauguration and donate to the tsunami disaster aid program.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 12:34 pm (UTC)
A nice idea. But it would take a big man to make that sort of gesture.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-01-03 07:43 am (UTC)
"I think the news progam is scare-mongering. I really do. I think it's putting a US government spin on what's happening over there."

well... sri lanka is in the middle of a ten-year civil war, and the northern parts of it are controlled by tamil rebels, and there is a terrorist organization known as the tamil tigers that has been active against the sinhalese government in the south for many years.

so it's not necessarily wrong to say that sri lanka is "rife with terrorist operatives" (although i think to phrase it as such is a bit overblown), but it's a different kind of terrorism that has nothing to do with the US (a fact that the new program probably didn't bother to mention-- which is why i don't get my news from tv)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 10:17 am (UTC)
Exactly.

According to a news report I saw at lunchtime, the Singhalese government and the Tigers have called a truce in some areas and are co-operating to deal with the disaster.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-01-03 10:33 am (UTC)
maybe this will be progress for sri lanka, then.

could the program have been referring to indonesia? there are muslim extremists in indonesia-- remember last year's bombing of bali-- but their actions are directed mainly at hindus, not christians. bali is the only part of indonesia that is hindu-majority.

[sigh.] it has nothing to do with us. terrorism can be found in every place where differences exist between people.

on a side note, did you know that india has committed to giving aid to the other tsunami-stricken countries? why are the poorest countries the most generous? i am proud of india today.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 10:41 am (UTC)
Yes I knew that about India. It's impressive.

God only knows who that program was referring to. I just think it was trying to whip up paranoia. Bastards!

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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-01-03 12:27 pm (UTC)
did you know that india has committed to giving aid to the other tsunami-stricken countries? why are the poorest countries the most generous?

I read somewhere or heard somewhere back after 9/11 that the people who have the least to give are usually the ones who give the most.

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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-01-03 12:44 pm (UTC)
yes, a UN official said something to that effect last week...
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-01-03 06:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for mentioning all this. I have gotten stuck on my anger at the comparison to 9/11 and haven't been able to move beyond that; this nudged me out of that. So your sermon did some good.

(I'm just teasing, this was far from sermonlike.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 06:35 am (UTC)
The first time I tried to write it, it came out as a sermon, so I scrapped it and started again.

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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-01-03 06:42 am (UTC)
You get major points for knowing the difference.:)
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[User Picture]From: barbarakitten_t
2005-01-03 06:25 am (UTC)
i'm glad you posted this, and i am looking forward to reading more of your non-sermons. (i friended you because you are a Friend of Friends...and i think it's probably a good thing i did....)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-01-03 06:53 am (UTC)
Thanks.

I took a look at your journal this morning and found it very interesting.

I look forward to reading more.
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2005-01-07 03:55 pm (UTC)
I did like an article someone wrote (I'm being deliberately vague because I can remember neither where I read it nor who wrote it) in which they commented that it would be ironic if the "brotherhood of nations" that the tsunami was causing to break out all over a generally unstable region might mean that, in the long run, the tsunami would actually save more lives than it took.

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