Tuesday 15 March 2011

The Falling Man

Natural disasters lead to enormous numbers of dead...so large that the people become just that...numbers. Did you ever see the picture, or indeed the video of The Falling Man? As one of the Twin Towers burnt on 9/11, someone photographed a man falling from near the top. It's an iconic image of the human shape with the steel and glass of the tower behind him. In one picture, the whole terrible disaster was humanised. In the same way, watching the footage of the Japanese tsunami shows many unwitting 'Falling Men'...people being swept away by the advancing waters, people driving cars, vans and trucks oblivious to the fast approaching blackened and rubble filled wave. All these people...mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers. Each with their own story abruptly and unexpectedly curtailed. It will be a some time before the 'numbers' come in, but when they do it's worth just thinking of The Falling Man.

It is difficult to judge how the impact of the impending disaster at Fukushima will have on the Japanese psyche. As the only country ever to have had nuclear weapons dropped on it in anger, nuclear has always cast a dark shadow on the land. A large scale explosion leading to fallout across the country, region, globe will have a dramatic effect. As a country with few natural resources, nuclear power has been an enormous benefit...but whatever the outcome in Fukushima, expect the Japanese to turn themselves to finding alternative sources. They're not great inventors, but they are brilliant at taking an invention and making it work brilliantly - look what they've done with cars...making them reliable in a way that the Europeans and Americans are still playing catch up with, look what they've done with consumer electronics. This could be a turning point, and the silver lining to these events.

I learnt a while ago that people (that's you and me and everyone else) can only really cope with one 'event' at a time. So if you look back you'll see that Britain's love affair with food chain problems has been one thing after another rather than all together...salmonella in eggs, BSE, foot and mouth, etc, etc. In the same way, the problems in Libya and the rest of the Middle East have been consigned to small paragraphs tucked away mid-newspaper. So you may have not noticed that the 'rebels' in Libya are on the run, and likely to be squashed with or without the much-discussed 'no-fly-zone. Given the strength of Gadaffi's forces and the disorganised nature of the opposition, this was always likely to be the outcome...however sad that might be.

Of more significance, I think, is that the Saudis have sent troops to Bahrain to quell the rioting there. Royal families have always stuck together, and so it's no surprise that the troops have arrived following a 'request'. The last thing the Saudi's can afford is to see a Royal house begin to crumble because they would be next. I read yesterday on Sheik saying that people weren't really interested in democracy, the problems are rooted in standards of living. He's right, but whether the wealth can be better distributed whilst the current regimes are in place seems unlikely. And at some stage the oil generated wealth will ebb away, at which point there will be an almighty conflagration. But as there will be no oil to worry about, we won't care will we?

The Boy is doing his German oral today...or is it aural? He both talks and listens so I just don't know. Anyway, I'm hoping t goes well. Home matters are always the most important things aren't they?