Saturday, May 10, 2008

About Suffering

The Myanmar cyclone disaster
is no doubt the worst natural catastrophe this century.

Yet when I looked up Google News (NZ) this morning, what featured on my screen was the impending trial for the corruption allegedly committed by an Australasian politician and the political economic shocks that are likely to affect Myanmar in the near future.

I then flicked to Google News (World) to find that future political economic shocks for Myanmar had taken first position and Hopes For Dream Ticket As Obama Praises Clinton was second. Myanmar Holds Poll Despite Post-cyclone Chaos was a close third on both bulletins.

In a desperate attempt to redress my initial personal issue with Internet news, I switched to to find that Myanmar’s poll and Obama’s political issues were the top features.

As I write, the estimated death toll in Myanmar is over 100,000, and expert opinion is that the eventual death toll could reach many times that figure.

Here is a society that is committing self-genocide through restriction on aid by its military and the billboards of the world post local corruption issues and political rhetoric. Such as it is, it looks as if the disaster is almost being overlooked in favour of more attractive political issues.

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Musée des Beaux Arts - W.H. Auden

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