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The Lessons We Should All be Learning Fast Over Haiyan

Shelter From the Storms


The storms come and go, again and again, and we’re left with devastating after images. Again. The deaths, the wreckage, the deep mourning, then the diseases, and then days upon days, even weeks (or in the case of Sandy and Katrina, years) go by while we agonize, again, about why we are not able to get aid in faster, again, or Fox agonizes about brown people looting, again,  therefore don’t worry about getting aid in. It’s always an endless viscous deadly cycle and it’s so predictable as to be mind numbing, and yet, again, it’s glaringly obvious that we are going to stay unprepared and seemingly surprised, helpless, and slow to respond, once again, as it happens again. And it will happen again and again, and our response will likely be the same post storm hand wringing as always. If this was our preparation for war, our leaders would be rightly called deniers and appeaser monkeys. But people, we ARE at war, another undeclared war on nature itself, and we continue to pretend that we were given dominion over it.

It is too seldom discussed how we in the USA are complicit in this disaster in so many many ways. It’s seldom mentioned that we invaded The Philippines back in the 1890s, after we had wrapped up the long and ongoing  slaughter of our domestic brown peoples, and were able to pursue an overseas empire, which has never relented since. It is seldom mentioned how we milked the Philippines, and it’s peoples and resources, the same way we milk all of the nations in our empire. The Philippines is the world’s 14th largest grower of food, yet gets to retain about 10% of that food for its own people. The rest of it goes to huge multinational corporations who eventually put those products on your tables of those who can afford them in this nation. It’s also seldom mentioned that we foisted one of the kings of corruption on them Ferdinand Marcos, to do our bidding, and then we pretty much left his unbelievably dense and massive bureaucracy in place when the Philippine people finally threw him, and us, out of their country.

It’s also seldom mentioned that we are trying very hard to get back into The Philippines with our so called “Asian pivot”. It’s sometimes a topic in the lamestream media that their nation suffers from a lot of ongoing government corruption. They are working hard to try to solve it, but their, like in our own nation’s, 1% will peacefully give up the resources they have lifted successfully out of everyone elses pocket. The corruption is always talked about as if it all happens in a vacuum and is something like “the weather” that we can do nothing about. But the problem is, we CAN do something about it, and if the Department Of Defense papers are correct, we can even do something about the weather too, and are constantly manipulating the weather, while another arm of the government, and the corporate media, deny we do. But I digress.

If we leave all these many issues aside, the fact of the matter is: we saw, for days, the biggest Typhoon ever, bearing down on them, and again, the world responds afterwards. Then there is much public hand wringing over who donates, who sends more, who sends what to where, and all along the way it lines the pockets of those who did not suffer, while day and night, and then another day and night, and more, and more, goes by, with a huge number of people not having proper drinking water, much less food and shelter. Maybe the storm was an “act of God” but the response certainly isn’t. It does not take a genius to understand The Philippines suffers about twenty such storms a year, although this one was greater in intensity. It doesn’t take a genius to see that greater intensity storms are becoming the norm. And it doesn’t take a genius to see a lot of needless deaths and suffering could be avoided.

It does not take a genius. It takes planning. Yes, it would start with some simple government planning on the local level. Start with little inexpensive things, like not letting people build in low lying areas, and making sure homes had at least a basics of structural strength. Proper planning could insure that more people were evacuated, and instant fresh water would arrive afterwards, while everything else was on the way. On the local level, some basic changes would mitigate the ongoing destruction suffered throughout the year, but primarily in the monsoon season. It has been noted they have inadequate  roads and infrastructure, and yes it is daunting to link seven thousand plus islands in a cohesive unit. But it has to be done, and it’s far more needed than making sure government buildings are new and tidy and packed with employees who sometimes don’t seem to have something to do. That may sound harsh, but I was just there for six months and could tell you earfuls about what I saw and why the nation struggles.

Also, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the world response could be lined up in advance. Back in the day we staged part of a world war out of Guam, and could have had supplies on the way once we saw how deadly the storm was becoming. If you have ever been in a severe natural disaster you would see clearly that even a few hours without fresh water can make the death toll higher, even a couple of days without proper medical help and food can kill those who may have otherwise  survived. By the time you read this, the disaster has unfolded for week. By the time you read this, Sandy victims are still trying to rebuild, and Katrina people are still scattered across the area in a needless diaspora. Seriously you say! What you propose is a giant welfare program, a giant Department Of Peace, funded as well (technically I would want better funded) then the War Department. What you propose sir is a giant preparation for coming storms instead of always a late, sometime too late, reaction after the fact. It’s the least we can do since we have allowed our policies to declare war on nature. Simply stand up, in advance, to protect the civilians in the first skirmishes, that will most definitely increase.

Let’s show the victims of these storms, and the coming ones, that we take them more seriously than to be a hand wring after the fact. Simply put, if you haven’t been in a “once in a hundred year” storm yet, you will be, and many will be in these 100 year storms every other year or so. Let’s step up to the challenge we have foisted on ourselves. The life you save may be your own.

Charles Haymarket is a life long activist, organizer, author, watchmaker timepiece technician,  and original music playing half of The Haymarket Orphans, a cool band you should have heard. He can be reached at Haymarketorphans@hotmail.com