Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why I Love NPR

Did anyone else catch that amazing segment on NPR yesterday about the family in China who lost their toddler in the earthquake? I have to admit, I was out of it, I thought the big news was the cyclone in Myanmar, and lo and behold, as I was driving home from my tutoring job, I found out that I'd somehow missed the fact that there was this giant earthquake that's killed 20,000 people.

Here's the story. I literally had tears rolling down my face during the broadcast, especially when the parents found out their child had indeed died, and they both started wailing in that way that you know you would if your heart-walking-around-outside-your-body had been crushed like that. Even the translator was crying.

(And I love how, on the Today Show this morning, which I watch a couple mornings a week while on my elliptical trainer, they devoted all of about 45 seconds to the crisis, which is about one-tenth of the time they spent interviewing Angelina Jolie and gushing about the fact that she is having TWINS. That pretty much sums up the TVnews/NPR divide for you.)

You know, I'm ashamed to admit it, but when you hear numbers like "20,000 casualties" in China or Myanmar or the like, that kind of statistic is so mindboggling that it's easy to sort of dehumanize the tragedy and think subconsciously that the loss of each of those persons can't possibly mean as much to their family and friends as it would to US if that happened here in OUR country. As if the hypothetical loss of one of our children in, say, a car accident or something that we parents fear, would be any more grievous than the loss of one child among 20,000 in an earthquake. As if somehow, our children, and family, and friends, their presence and their absence mean more to us.

It's ridiculous, of course, and stories like that one put it all in perspective.

P.S. Not to mention the whole one-child policy and China's penchant for forced sterilizations; I wonder how that dynamic plays into all this ...


Jennifer said...

I heard that story, too! It was the most amazing thing I've ever heard on the radio. I heard it at 5pm and just balled and balled, and I heard it again at 6pm and balled again. I told Evan about it and he listened to it on the internet and was just as moved as I was.

Jenny said...

I'm a huge NPR fan, also, and I agree about the coverage of world events on NPR vs most television news. The Today Show is just ridiculous, I refuse to watch it. They shouldn't even claim to be a news's clearly WAY more entertainment than news!!

MoreThanJustaMom said...

I remember being bothered by this concept even when I was younger. I think it was during the first Gulf War that I remember hearing casualty reports and then asking my mom, "How can they say that ONLY such-and-such number died? To each of their families, that's their whole world!" I can't imagine living through a catastrophe like the earthquakeloe in China - and I can't imagine how it would be to lose the one light of your life. What devastation all the way around.

Nonnie said...

I happened to be listening to NPR at the very time the earthquake was happening. Two of their reporters were in China. Melissa Block was one of them, and was recording a report on something else when the earthquake began. It was so interesting to hear her react to what was happening in the moment. When something like that happens, and you have no idea what the impact is going to be, your immediate reaction is one of almost disbelief. It is hard for us to imagine the devastation, and then to have the cyclone in Myanmar and the tornadoes in Kansas all in one week.... It reminds me of September 11, watching the twin towers go down time after time on the television and still not able to fully grasp what was happening. Like ripples in a pond, every single person who was involved directly, whether alive or dead, affects many other lives in a powerful way, a way that changes their lives forever. May the Lord touch their hearts and gain His purpose through it all.