Posted by: Paul | February 22, 2011

The Christchurch Earthquake

This is the city of Christchurch, the largest on the South Island of New Zealand. I woke up this morning to the news that it had been devastated by an earthquake – the second big one in 6 months – and was instantly sick at heart. We spent our honeymoon in New Zealand, and had the last few days of our trip staying in Christchurch before flying home, and I remember the city well – genteel, elegant, spacious. A place where you can really breathe and relax.

I was particularly disturbed to see the pictures of the devastation of the Cathedral. Though I’m not religious at all, I do appreciate the architecture of worship, designed to inspire awe aswell as to dominate the feeble populace. But seeing that wonderful building’s spire turned into a pile of rubble lying at its feet is heartbreaking.

I can’t imagine what the people of the city are going through right now. I’ve spent the morning devouring all the news I can find on it and have seen stories of people cut off from their children, office workers trying to pull friends and colleagues from the wreckage, and literally hundreds more people trapped under the rubble. I only hope the rescue efforts are as successful as they can possibly be under the circumstances. Sending solidarity to New Zealand, everyone’s watching with bated breath.

It’s almost all bad news at the moment – the turmoil and suffering in the Middle East, particularly Libya right now. My brother in law was due to go to Egypt on business at the height of the protests, the trip cancelled at the last minute thankfully. You have to hope that a brighter, safer, free future comes out of it for the people of those countries, and ‘benevolent dictatorships’ are not just replaced with outright police states or more authoritarian regimes. Days like this make you realise how incredibly, unbelievably lucky we are. If you live in the western world, in a country not beset by natural disaster, in a comfortable home with everything you need, you’ve hit life’s jackpot without even knowing it. Look around once in a while, take stock, and appreciate what you have – because it can be taken from you in the blink of an eye. Just look at Christchurch this morning.

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