A Matter of Sensitivity

December 2004 was probably one of the darkest moments in the history of Indonesia ever recorded when gigantic sea waves crushed toward the town of Banda Aceh –  and several another places in Asian countries – , killing over 100.000 people and creating a breathtaking sort of devastation. Hundreds of miles square of the poor city were flattered, homes were swept out, people lost their families and thousands of corpses laid down the street everywhere; a little doom day by the end of the year. It didn’t take long for people around the country and international aid foundations to gather immediate help in forms of food, supplies, medicines, volunteers for the survivors and for the reconstruction of the affected areas; schools have been rebuilt, children are able to study again and family members who managed to survive are reunited. It’s been one year now and the city is moving toward a better future after the disaster.

Then, a seemingly silly question arises of why people showed big concern and give great amount of donation and contribution over the tsunami disaster. The answer is, of course, because the people affected by the huge wave needed support and help in order to continue living and relieve from physical and  psychological destructions; they terribly needed new homes, brand new schools, first aid or even only food, shelters and tents to survive for the next few days. The other reason is because we couldn’t bear seeing human being suffer and live in a tremendously tearful condition after the crush and therefore we should make collective efforts to get them live in more appropriate ways.

Several points mentioned above are likely the best boosters that generated our senses of humanity over the bad fate happened to those unlucky people. Yet, there is one more none-the- less important motive of our quick responds; which is because that sort of disaster rarely happened and all people who watched the impact must have felt shaken and were emotionally moved (perhaps most of us had never witnessed that such thing before) as well as they would automatically react on anything that seemed very unusual. Then, what would we answer if one more stupid question came : if tsunami happens every week, will we still care as much as we did last year?

Without going around any further, this short essay is only focusing on the way we treat suffering and unlucky-fated people around us. We have been giving so much attention and help to the survivors of deadly tsunami and pretending not to see many other humanity crisis “victims” that exist so close to us. Beggars, homeless people, children begging around down the street holding babies on their hands, you name it, are some examples that should have awaken our sensitivity as human being who were not supposed to be able to see another human being live in very miserable ways. Wherever we go, we can easily find people sit down on the sidewalk waiting for some penny to buy some food; abandoned children, elderly, and invalids go through the days waiting for somebody else’s generosity  and still unknowing how long they can survive living that way. They have neither home to come to,  good food to eat,  proper clothes to wear,  money to go to school  nor a great number of  people to care. Are they less suffering than tsunami victims? Not really, we just already get used to with them very well considering that we watch them in too many occasions.

We are now living in a system that erode our sense of feeling others’ pain  each day, a system that, instead of fixing it, allows us to witness miserable scenery right before our eyes. An obvious proof of this takes place on Jl. Gunung Bawakaraeng,Makassar where you may watch a big group of children and olds beg on the street, sleep and enjoy their meals on the sidewalk only few meters from where the House of Respective Local Representatives and Makassar Finance Buildings are located, passed through by thousands of street users day and night.

And they are still there now, not better than before.

Don’t you think we’ll  lose our sensitivity on something  we get costumed with?

By: Nasrullah

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