Singapore — We are a global village and we are connected in our human vulnerability. This was the message of Singapore Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng, reported in the The Straits Times this morning.
We are a global
village and we are
connected in our
The message rings true. On the flight in from Tokyo I sat next to a campus minister from Southwest Missouri State University who has paid his own way to volunteer. Next to me on the opposite was a medical volunteer from Pennsylvania.
I am writing on a flight from Singapore to
Medan, Indonesia. On this flight, which is full, a volunteer wears a shirt
bearing the logo of the Redondo Beach Fire Department. A team of a dozen
medical personnel bearing vests identifying themselves as the NHIC Ilsan (South
Korea) Hospital Medical Services Team is
A team of (mostly) young
people wearing t-shirts with International Service Partners from Austin, Texas
is headed for the disaster
This disaster has been a
global unifying event. It’s as if this tragedy has become an occasion to say no
to demonization and dehumanization. In the last few months we’ve hear often the
language of terror, of suicide bombers, of people reduced to easily defined
catch-phrases in media reports. And a few have demonized “those” different
from “us”. In this situation we see each other as human
I believe this outpouring of
compassion represents refusal to buy into this demonization wholeheartedly.
It’s as if the people of the world are saying, “Some of us are hurting and the
rest of us can help. Let’s do
Maybe that sounds overly
optimistic. It certainly is naive. But it’s a whole lot better than doing
nothing. So I’m willing to overlook naivete’ because the statement underneath
is so powerful.
That statement is
that despite division and discord we’ve not lost our sense of humanity. We may
not know how to articulate it, but we know we live in a global village. It’s a
small world, after all.
It is also a
statement that compassion is still a compelling value and people are willing to
act on it.
Some will even travel
around the world just to help others in distress. While we have real and
significant differences, we also have much in
And on this understanding hinges a
global village and the hope that we can see beyond division and demonization to
a community of healing and
What we have in common is our
human vulnerability and our ability to help each other when one of us needs a
Wow, that’s naive.
But every plane I’ve been on these past 24 hours has been loaded with these