Thursday, 4 March 2010

What would Jan do?

Much ink has been spilled over the last few days (figuratively speaking -- although now that I think about it....) on the issue of the post-earthquake looting. Undoubtedly, as in Katrina, it arose from, but also caused, much suffering. It raises questions regarding the delay in the government's -- and especially the armed forces' -- response time. Surely the ability to maintain full control of the territory at all times is a fairly fundamental responsiblity.

Nevertheless, much of the commentary has concentrated on how uncivilised Chileans are compared to others. Especially poor Chileans. How very ugly it has all been. Why can't we be more like the Swiss?

I am not a fan of these arguments. For one thing, besides the mountains, we are nothing like the Swiss (and their mountains don't shake). However, a few days ago David Brooks published this op-ed piece in the New York Times which shows how other societies react to extraordinary circumstances.

It also shows that, contrary to what some may be tempted to argue, misery does not cause inhuman behaviour. On the contrary, it is then that people really have the potential to show their humanity.

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