Lets look at some numbers from the most recent natural disaster, Typhoon Haiyan. The Philippine typhoon that hit November 8 has racked up a current death toll of almost 6,166, while 1,785 have still not been found. Adding to this, almost 29,000 people have suffered injuries from the typhoon, 4million people have been displaced from their homes, and 14million Filipinos were negatively impacted. The Philippine government has said that it is currently feeding 1.4million people a day.
(Reuters/Erik De Castro)
Although the Philippine government is being criticized for not doing more, it is still difficult to find blame when it comes to natural disasters of this level. When it comes down to it, there is no one that can be directly blamed for this type of travesty, there is only so much anyone can do to prepare. The death tolls are nonetheless frightening and humbling.
Eight weeks after their death, the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan are just now being buried because, as Tacloban City authorities put it, there has been a lack of technical personnel as well as bad weather in the form of non-stop rain. This has greatly slowed down their ability to identify bodies. The burial process is expected to take about five days more because of this, and still many of the bodies have not been claimed or identified by any family members.
As Filipino-American columnist for the Guardian Juanita Salvador-Burris also pointed out, it hasn't helped that old rules created by the United States Congress back in the 1950's has drawn out the process of getting extremely necessary humanitarian aid relief over to millions of desperate Filipinos. These outdated laws and regulations have the potential to cause real harm and perhaps even cause unnecessary death. With 4 million people having lost their homes because of the typhoon, the columnist is right in saying that there is no excuse for any amount of red tape when it comes to responding to a disaster such as this. This is when red tape should be cut and thrown in the wastebasket with haste. Anything less than such a reaction should be seen as careless.
If this natural disaster had occurred in the United States, there would be no questions asked. Protocol would be thrown to the wayside if it were getting in the way. As world citizens, when something of this magnitude strikes, the same haste should be taken for citizens of any country irrespective of any other factors. These are the most important times to show our mutual respect to one another, when others are facing times of crisis. Perhaps the often recited but not as often practiced saying "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" could best be put into practice at this time. The saying is appropriately the foundation of so many of the ethical systems societies are built upon. The United States claims to be one of these societies, so it seems fair to ask the U.S. to dust off this proverb and transform it from an empty and forgotten saying into one that can be practically applied today.