About a month ago, I scribbled about how my culture may be described as one of “give and be given (thrice as much).” Well, I have been seeing a whole day’s worth of “give and be given” since last night’s earthquake, and I feel I must revise my opinion on it.
Although less frequent and lesser in strength, we are still experiencing aftershocks, nearly 150 times within the last 24 hours – that’s ground shaking every ten minutes on average! Many of my people in the affected area are in great fear that buildings will collapse, spending the night outdoors or in cars. They are devastated that they have lost their homes to return to, and feeling lost not knowing where to start to rebuild their lives.
But in the same 24 hours, we have had emergency shelters being established, providing safe places to stay as well as food and water and medical check-ups to tens of thousands of people. Rescue teams from different organizations have searched the entire affected area and no persons are missing (although a few were very unfortunately found dead). Many service providers are working without much rest to restore destroyed infrastructure without compromising anyone’s safety. Ways to make donations, monetary or in forms of supplies, has already been set up.
So many of my people are so readily giving whatever they can to be of any help to those affected and in need. Maybe it is because we have a well-developed disaster recovery plan, since we are such an earthquake-ridden country. But I have reasons, and evidence, to believe that maybe we would still have people give readily even without such a plan.
For one, many of the givers this time are from areas that were hit by earthquakes in the past and were once the givens. They were so grateful of what they were given then, they are very willing to be on the giving end this time. In fact, because they know what things are most needed to be given, they are giving more in quality than they were given (and I am certain they give more in quantity as well, giving time and again whenever they see people in similar needs as they were in the past).
For another, we all live with the same fear that it could have happened to any of us. Although we are an earthquake-ridden country and it will always be a part of our lives, it is still in large part unpredictable when and where it will strike next, or with how much force. When we see someone else affected, we are not relieved it was not us this time, but we are afraid it will more likely be us the next time. And wanting to be helped when it does hit us, we feel we have to help those who are hit this time (though mostly unconsciously, I think).
I do think it important to keep improving our disaster recovery plan. But I also think it has limits – it cannot suit every case perfectly, and there will always be unexpected events it cannot handle. And where the plan fails, maybe the “give and be given” spirit covers to pull us through… Maybe it is not such a terrible or frustrating thing to endorse at times like these, even if I am more of a “give and take” kind of person.
Thank you so very much to everyone out there who have given your thoughts and prayers to my people – it really means a lot to us. I know my words are nowhere near thrice as much, but I hope you will accept the utmost gratitude given back to you by me.