I'm not sure which is more revolting: the earthquake and tsunamis that have devastated Asia, or the political bickering that has risen up around it.
Sri Lanka has refused aid from Israel, citing the presence of military personnel in their offer. Which translates to: we'd rather have our people die than overcome our religious prejudice.
Meanwhile the Vatican failed to get this memo and criticized Israel for failing to act. Take this as honest criticism guys - I am after all, a staunch Catholic - but try to keep up with current events, ok? SEE UPDATE BELOW
Then our press ripped into President Bush for failing to get in front of a camera and express his sorrow. Try to explain this one to me. Last I checked, it's not going to do one bit of good for the people in Asia.
Of course, our friend the UN hinted that the US was stingy with its aid. Ironic, coming from an organization whose budget is a tenth of the amount Americans donate to charity each year.
And last but not least, some of my colleagues on the left have written comparing the destruction in Asia to the events of September 11th. They conclude that it makes 9/11 insignificant.
In terms of lives lost and destruction to property, I certainly agree. It's impossible to argue otherwise. Just as of this writing - with thousands missing and thousands more doomed to die of disease - the death toll trumps 9/11 twenty times over.
I write the next words with care, because in no way do I mean to minimize a single life that's been lost this week.
But in the course of history, 9/11 will be remembered long after the tsunami is a mere footnote.
As awful as they are, natural disasters happen. They occur randomly, without prejudice and no nation is immune. From the Galveston hurricane of the early 20th century to the earthquake in Iran last year, mankind lives at the mercy of the planet it inhabits.
In contrast, the events of 9/11 were not haphazard acts of nature. They were careful, deliberate acts of malice, the work of one group seeking to destroy another and willing to kill innocent strangers to do so.
Would I rather have had a hypothetical family member in New York on that awful day, as opposed to one of the countries hit this week? Without question. Most of those who worked in the World Trade Center had an opportunity to escape, and provided you were not employed in rescue services (or simply worked at the Empire State Building as opposed to the Towers) you were safe.
That's not the point.
Like Pearl Harbor, which was far less bloody than a score of less influential battles, the human cost of the event belays its importance to the future. September 11thmarked the starting point of a new era in terrorism and the beginning of a global conflict. It initiated a new era in federal powers and responsibilities, opened the door to a controversial doctrine of pre-emptive attack, and challenged the power and future of the United Nations as a legitimate force in the world.
And that's only the effect that we've felt after three years. Who knows how deep an impact it will make over the course of the next twenty-five.
Mourn for the victims of the tsunami, do all you can to aid the survivors, and say a prayer thanking God you weren't there. But there's nothing we can do to stop it from happening again.
Let's hope the same can't be said for 9/11.
CWN Corrects Mistranslated Vatican Article
Catholic World News has issued a correction for their mistranslation of a Vatican newspaper article, making it clear that the Vatican was criticizing Sri Lanka for not accepting Israel’s help:
Vatican, Dec. 30 (CWNews.com) - The following is a corrected version of a story that appeared on CWNews.com earlier this week, in which a crucial error in translation caused a serious misinterpretation of the news. CWNews apologizes for the error.
Vatican, Dec. 28 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican newspaper has denounced a decision by Sri Lanka to reject emergency aid offered by the Israeli government. Sri Lanka declined the Israeli aid because it would have been furnished by a military team.
Calling for “a radical and dramatic change of perspective” among people “too often preoccupied with making war,” L’Osservatore Romano chastised the government of the stricken Asian nation for putting unnecessary restrictions on an Israeli offer to furnish medical help.
Hat tip to Little Green Footballs for the update.