Friday, January 02, 2004

Fall out from the Quake

A couple of interesting articles here and here. Perhaps this is too early a time to focus on the lessons learned from this calamity. Perhaps we are still too emotional and grief stricken to deal with the fall out. How does one deal with the scope of this tragedy? And the extent of the destruction? What will become of the bruised, the tormented, the shocked, and the orphaned? How do we sooth those who have lost sons, daughters, parents, or siblings? When the passions cool, and we return—as we inevitably always do return—to our prosaic, humdrum routine, who will care for the abandoned?

Already, true to the spirit of the ancient Iranian bureaucratic mentality, there are calls for commissions of enquiry, for ways of enforcing building codes, for passing official resolutions that mandates prayers for the drills that could at some point facilitate a more smoothly organized relief effort – for the next time, always the next time, an earthquake strikes, killing multitudes.

And still yet, the gossip already started; it started on the day of the quake. “Don’t give to this organization,” we are told, “it is inefficient and corrupt.” “Those brand new foreign tents will be sold on this black market,” and “those newly arrived medicine on that,” “profiting” a list of the usual suspects—almost always some unnamed government official.”

I for one have had enough already! Just once- for once in our lives, I wish we could just shut up and stop our tarradiddle. Let’s pause and take a good look around. Sure this Government is part of the problem, but the bigger part is us. We are the problem. We--the Iranians-- with our delusions of grandeur, with an exaggerated sense of self confidence, with an absolutely false sense of our capabilities and competencies and our endless prattle.

Here is the problem as I see it. We think we have the education of the Swedes, the productivity and the natural resources of the Americans, the communal spirit of the Israelis, the dedication and the planning acumen of the Germans, the work ethos and the respect for the laws exhibited by the Japanese and the potential GDP per Capita of those lucky Luxembourgians—when in fact, we are simply your typical run-of-the-mill Iranian. And according to the latest human development report we are ranked number 106: 81 ranks below Cyprus, 70 below Seychelles, 44 below Mauritius, 29 below Surinam and only two ranks above the Moldova. It doesn’t have to be this way, you know. But, the sooner we come to grips with the reality of our situation, the higher the probability of us getting out of this mess.

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