When news of the aftermath of Yolanda(a.k.a. Haiyan) reached us, we were devastated. My facebook newsfeed was and is still full of pictures, videos, news updates of missing people, notes from survivors- everything that painted a picture of the shocking destruction made by the supertyphoon and the tsunami-like storm surge that killed an estimate of almost 10,000 in just one area, left thousands homeless, and wiped out entire cities. Not only that, my facebook wall has also been full of personal opinions on how the affected should be helped, complaints on delayed relief efforts, derogatory remarks about the government and the president- even of volunteers, media people, fellow doctors, and the Red Cross– blogposts on people being insensitive about what they post on their facebook walls, attacks on churches and religious organizations, and disputes, yes quarrels on social media about anything pertaining to the use of social media in such a time as this. And this too, is heartbreaking.
Dear fellow Filipinos, the whole world is watching us. We claim to be strong in the face of adversity; we claim to be heroes for withstanding the strongest typhoons, earthquakes and other natural disasters beyond our imagination, but we seem to go on lashing out at each other- judging people by the content of their facebook walls, judging victims who have looted grocery stores, attacking the president or any other politician, attacking churches and whole religions, complaining, oh, endless complaining about almost everything- from the delay of relief operations, to the blackouts, tv programs deemed insensitive- almost everything. Please, let us stop.
Let’s not judge the president for his seeming lack of sensitivity and reported lack of manners by walking out. We don’t know exactly what was on his mind. Let us not judge the church who reportedly refused to help survivors, we do not know what really happened, and if they did really refuse victims, it is not for us to judge them, they are not accountable to us. Let us stop making or even exaggerating the stories about politicians from the affected areas who are also victims of the tragedy. I am sure they are doing their best in helping. Let us stop complaining about the delay of relief operations to the affected areas. We do not know exactly what it entails for the volunteers to travel to the affected areas. We also do not know what it entails for truckloads of relief supplies to reach the area. We know nothing about the logistics. Let us stop judging volunteers if they post photos of themselves helping out on facebook. We are not aware of their intentions, and even if it were to brag, it’s not for us to judge them, at least they’re helping out. Let us stop judging victims who have looted groceries, helping themselves to whatever is left- food, clothing, even appliances- these people have lost their homes and loved ones, and have gone hungry and psychologically traumatized for days. Let us not judge the media for still allowing “happy” shows on television amidst the mourning. They might just want to cheer us up. If you can’t take it, you can turn your television off. Let us stop judging our electric companies for the blackouts, it was actually caused by a lack of power supply due to damage of electric lines and powerplants- and I know this because my brother and of course my dad both work for the National Grid and they haven’t slept (and gone home) for days. Let us stop arguing about the cause of Yolanda, whether it was man-made or divinely appointed. Only God knows why it happened. Let us not blame God for this disaster. We do not know His purpose. We can only trust and hope. Let us not put the blame on the victims for their sins either, it’s like saying the whole earth deserves to be wiped out right now. We are no better than them.
Let’s stop judging. Let’s stop blaming. Let’s stop complaining. Let’s stop arguing and attacking each other. This is supposed to be a time for unity, a time for solidarity among the Filipino people. We ought to love and forgive each other. We ought to help each other, move together, hope for the better. We ought to pray. We ought to live up to our own reputation of being strong (and happy) in the face of adversity. The last thing we ought to do at this time is attack a fellow Filipino. This isn’t war, people, this is a tragedy.