The Japanese earthquake is just another painful reminder of how the curse of sin has affected our world. Nothing a few thousand God & Suffering Witnessing Packs won’t solve. (Apparently, it’s all the fault of Adam and Eve.)
Beijing orders the evacuation of some of its people in Japan, “In accordance with a highly responsible attitude towards the personal safety of Chinese citizens,” the South China Morning Post quotes the PRC Tokyo embassy as saying. No word yet on demands for special treatment for any Mainland parents who lost an only child in the disaster. If it is necessary, however, the Central People’s Government could always argue that it gave special treatment to the thousands of families who lost only sons and daughters when schools built by corrupt officials collapsed in the Szechuan earthquake three years ago. I suppose cash and a warning of jail if they didn’t shut up can be called ‘special’.
Meanwhile, expatriates are fleeing Japan for Hong Kong to flood into our Starbucks and strip them dry. Where is a SARS outbreak when we need one to divert them all somewhere else? As with that 2003 exodus from the Big Lychee, it seems to be a particular sort of people escaping from the Land of the Rising Sun: multinational, often financial, companies’ high-fliers’ spouses and kids who are too precious to be exposed to the same conditions millions of other folk are taking in their stride. Do offspring of white-skinned bankers have exceptionally sensitive thyroids that absorb radioactivity especially fast? Or do these people, desperately eyeing their pink milkshakes and carpets, loathe their temporary foreign posting so much that they can’t resist an excuse to get out?
Presumably it is simple panic, perhaps compounded by a degree of uncertainty, or maybe ignorance – or at least a feeling of apart-ness in an alien environment (plus the husband would love to get the brood out of the way). But if Geiger counters detected self-centeredness, it is easy to imagine the devices clicking away just a little bit more when pointed in these people’s direction.
Similar examples… A few weeks ago I met someone who happened to be making an official complaint about wireless telephone transmission base stations – aerials – that had been erected on the roof of a building across the street from her home. She was worried that she would catch leukemia. “These things have been all over Hong Kong for years,” I said. “If you’re so concerned about them, why didn’t you take action before?” A few years ago I used to have to sit next to a particular individual at occasional banquets. Whenever seafood was served, he would refuse the course on the grounds that it might be dangerous, and sit and watch everyone else chewing away. “There are over a hundred people in this room all eating this steamed garoupa,” I would say. “If you know something we don’t about a health hazard, shouldn’t you warn everyone else?” The correct but unspoken answer to both my questions was, of course: “I don’t give a damn about other people; only I matter.”
There must be a name for this syndrome. All I know is that it’s not to be confused with the Cathay Pacific cabin crew union leader who was given what seemed like hours on RTHK Radio 3 this morning to insist that the airline – which has hundreds of her colleagues, let alone customers, living permanently in Japan – somehow fly all her members back to Hong Kong every night. That’s dim-witted tiresomeness, and no doubt the reason the Almighty gave us God and Suffering Witnessing Packs.