Monday, October 10, 2005


I was on the subway today (terrorist alert be damned), reading am/New York, a free news rag printed by Newsday (or is it the New York Post that prints it? there's a rival rag out there called METRO printed by one or the other, but I digress). Some days I don't feel like reading the gigantic Times and I like my news in sound bites on those days. I read way too much daily news on the Internet or watch it on the TV or listen to it on radio, and certain days I need to just chill out on too much information. I rarely buy the Daily News or Post, but occasionally like to scan these papers, which takes about as long as it does to read am/New York or Metro. And you don't have to pay for it at all! (Come on, a quarter for the Post? I'd rather save the tree.)

Anyway, the Op-Ed and letters page of am/New York prints a quote at the top of the page each day. Today's quote:
"Everything is destroyed -- the ground shook and took everything down. All the government people, the press people, they are just driving past."
--Syad Hassan of Pakistan on the earthquake that's killed more than 20,000 people there,
which reminded me of this quote,
"We understood that the police couldn't help us, but we couldn't understand why the National Guard couldn't help us, because we kept seeing them but they never would stop and help us."
Charmaine Neville during Hurricane Katrina.
Reading Mr. Hassan's words reminded me of Ms. Neville's words, and the earthquake (which was a thousand times worse than Katrina, IMHO), reminded me of people in both Louisiana and Mississippi who spoke of the government people, the press people, who would just drive by, and not help, for whatever reason: logistics, shock, no supplies, overwhelming needs, a thousand and one reasons in the face of utter desperation.

In one aspect, it's understandable why, under the magnitude of both disasters, systems break down. But that doesn't excuse the way the folk on the street feel about the systems and government when they do break down.

We expect our governments, whether in Pakistan or the United States, to help us in our hours of need. It's a bit natural, if you ask me, to make this assumption. Whether it's when we lose our jobs by downsizing or lose our homes by natural disaster. That's why we are called "Americans" or "Pakistanis." Our respective countries expect us to consider ourselves citizens, to be productive, to be civil, to pay some sort of tax or levy, to lay down our own lives at certain times, whatever. Why should we not expect something from our country in return? It's a reciprocal relationship, and if our government expects us to wait on the side of the road until help comes, then I'll wait to pay my taxes for X number of years and see how long the government tolerates that crap.

Whether your an American or a Pakistani, no one wants to wait while the press files their stories and the government moves on to another place and passes a citizen by while their family drowns or lies under a building.

On a lighter note, here's another comparision, via Mr. Doggity.

Uncanny, isn't it?

1 comment:

Carl said...

AM/NY = Newsday
Metro = Post

It's hard to tell because, in an effort to bend over backwards for the right wing, AM/NY has a lot of fasc-- errr, I mean, conservative columnists.

Welcome to blogging, Eld!