Relating to disasters

When terrible things happen in the world, it seems like people have a hard time relating to it. In my opinion, every news broadcast, newspaper and other sorts of media is littered with really sad things happening all the time; it’s too much too grasp. Just browsing through paragraph after paragraph with gory details leads to people becoming jaded.

In the last four years, this been some major things happening that I could relate more to than others:

Terrorist attack, September 11th
During the summer of 2000 I lived in Greenwich Village and worked in NYC. From the living room in the apartment I stayed, I had a good view of the towers every day, and we usually hang out on the roof during the evenings/nights, just looking around at this marvelous city. When my brother visited, we went up on top of the roof for one of the towers, and the feeling was literally like standing on top of the world. To add to that, I don’t like flying that much, either. I’m not afraid of flying; I’m afraid of dying, ok? After my stay there, I also knew some people still in NYC but luckily they survived. So I could connect to the terrorist attack on many levels…
The tsunami
A little more than three years ago, my girlfriend Fredrika and I traveled around the world. When the tsunami hit, there were a couple of places in Thailand, especially the Koh Phi Phi islands, were we’ve been and it was ghastly to see the state they were in after the waves/flooding.
Hurricane Wilma hit Cancún
On the same trip mentioned above, we started out with a week in Cancún, and the hotel area’s a very original piece of land; and now, it’s all flooded and badly ravaged by the hurricane.

One of the major reasons I think I relate more to these events is because I’ve actually been there; I can feel the smell of the area, hear the noises and start pondering about how the surroundings. I’m not saying that one’s has to have been there to be able to feel compassion or empathy, I’m just going for the fact that there’s no medium that can convey the realness of actually experienced a location.


  • Agreed completely; I could relate very well to Sep.11 because when I was 10, I had my first trip to the USA and one of the things I did there was go up to the top of the World Trade Center. I've been to NYC several times and it was always kind of my "anchor" to the city to see the Towers there.

    When they fell, a part of my life's history became obscure. Intangible, in a way. That's how I could relate to that one much better than to the hurricanes, for instance.

  • Kalle Wibeck says:

    Yes, it's much easier to relate to something when you have actually visited the areas that are affected.

    Me and my wife spent our honey moon (August, 2K) in <a href="; title="View location in map" rel="nofollow">Playa del Carmen south of Cancún. Several times the last days I have wondered if that area where affected by the flood as well…

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Faruk, Kalle,

    Thanks for sharing!


    Interesting to see that Playa del Carmen's that close to Xcaret; we went there one day on our trip. 🙂

    I have no direct link, but I remember reading in Swedish morning paper Svenska Dagbladet that some Mexican official stated that Playa del Carmen was totally demolished. I don't know for sure, though…

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