Let’s return one more time to the natural disasters that occurred almost all over, this past month. Typhoon Hato hit Hong Kong, hurricane Harvey struck Houston and about the same time flood havoc created calamity in Mumbai. Days prior to these events at least five Indian states experienced severe flooding heaping misery on hapless people. Large areas of Bangladesh underwent flooding brought on by heavy downpours. Nepal suffered landslides in the wake of dense rains when homes were destroyed and people swept away.
The UN reckons nearly 41 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal alone directly suffered ill effects of the disastrous monsoons. Even as these catastrophes unfolded in different regions, the one symbiotic feature that was visible in them was the tendency of the human nature to bond and band together, offering care, kindness and support to help people survive. Ordinary life as they knew it came to a grinding halt, but it was the sympathy of strangers that helped in bringing equanimity to situations that were beyond immediate control.
It was this sense of togetherness in the face of misfortune that remains a measure of our humaneness. This shining aspect turned out to be a singular attribute offering hope, strength and fortitude. The inherent spiritedness of humans came to the fore when people in cities, towns and communities suffered. With commuting systems at a standstill and people stranded with nothing at hand, it was the kindness of complete strangers that helped assuage the difficult situations.
Social media was ablaze with images of victims caught up in different kinds of predicaments. And we also saw images of people queuing up to volunteer to help victims get out of their plight. This makes us believe in the fact that there are more good people in this world than bad people. Complete outsiders came forward to assist people to cope with the crisis in a spirit of altruism. We saw accounts of people checking on neighbors and friends, sharing food and sharing information, and offering shelter to absolute strangers.
Kindness is definitely contagious! Not only ordinary folks but corporate offices, religious centers and government agencies too opened doors for one and all. It is this concern and support of people who are not kith and kin that really warms the cockles of the heart. Just imagine someone wet, shivering, stranded with no place to go, is suddenly made welcome, and offered a towel, tea and a dry spot! Mumbai in particular is fortunate to have enjoyed such people-centric cooperation in the face of on-going catastrophes.
It is this nameless-faceless mass of people offering speedy resourcefulness, is what is so significant. Their altruism went beyond themselves even at the cost to their own selves. Yet they continued to dole it all – kindness in adversity, unmatched improvisations and support for survival. How does one even begin to understand this language of kindness! More so when emotions are distraught and people pulled willy-nilly into a mindless chaos. Yet they continued reaching out with compassion and concern to assist fellow brethren.
Positive social response brings so many people to come forward to help total strangers. It is this human connection cutting across races and countries that needs to be fueled to facilitate a collective survival spirit. With global economy and global environment so intricately intertwined so as to generate forces that spark off natural disasters to go amuck, we need to enlarge this sphere of humanitarian resilience to ward off potential threats and to learn to survive bigger odds. A case in point is the man-created aggression provoked by nuclear warhead tests that are currently on. It’s a time to remain calm and sane fellow humans!