Ours is an ‘I‘-driven generation.

Hashtags, ‘likes’, ‘selfies’, images and impressions so far from shy,  have come to dominate what is supposed to be social messaging, social media. The ‘Look what I am doing’ phenomena has gripped the world across ages, classes, colours, cringe-worthy emoticons. Somehow shyness has been eclipsed by ‘I’ness. The right to know, and tell, becomes a reason to raise ones voice, whether rightfully involved or not. The laws of the universe are rewritten based on the perceived laws of the cloud.

It is a global warming of sorts, raising the temperature of tolerance. And throwing back the curtain of exposure. Even elders at first questioning the buzz of the feeling of talking to the world through the click of an ENTER key are falling to its seductive sense of importance. Information once beyond comprehension is easy to be accessed.

As much as it can challenge conventional logic of days now past, redefining the rules of social exchange – not just the what but the when, where and why – the forces of connectivity crossing our globe can be a very good thing. Awareness is raised. Something far away which may never have appeared on one’s information radar is suddenly in one’s hand and heart, inspiring action. This force of global knowing has become a source for global caring. Nations, people, facing crisis suddenly feel less alone as their world is hash-tagged around the world. Appeals for help yield unprecedented levels of immediate support that would never have been possible just years ago. Crowd-sourcing is occurring not only in cash, but in compassion.

With these waves of human sensitisation to global matters rising, stirring how people view the world and their role in it, compassion naturally turns to a strong desire for taking personal action.

Events unfolding across the world over the past years have shown, however, that when crisis hits – natural, political, financial, hurtful – our borderless world of connectivity is needing borders when it comes to getting too close. Social media awareness and action from afar is one thing, but on the ground emergency response is quite another. Qualifications go far beyond compassion. This same can be said for any horrific act of man or Mother Nature. To arrive with a heart packed full of best intentions can, and is most often, a bad decision if core skills needed to ensure survival are fulfilled. The desire to assist can easily, quickly, and dangerously turn into a distraction of attention and energies of aid workers needing to help those directly impacted, not those showing up to help.

So evident is this truth when, even a little over a year on, the scars of natural disaster are visible across Nepal. Just minutes before noon on Saturday the 25th of April, 2015 (thankfully a Saturday or kiddies would have been in school), Mother Nature unleashed her fury, an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.8 brought Nepal to its knees. The world cried as scenes of collapse unfolded on-air, online, its shock waves reaching across the world. Nearly 9,000 lives were lost, with tens of thousands suffering direct injuries, millions suffering heartbreak and horror. Centuries of relics and monuments were turned to absolute ruins, their rubble wiping out core identity. From the peaks of the Himalayas to places of prayer in Kathmandu’s valleys, life as the people of Nepal once knew it slid away.

It was gone. All gone. Aftershocks made certain of that.

In the days and weeks that followed, global familiarity with the Nepal’s heartbreaking fate brought on an odd fashionability for the country. Concern inspired citizen investment into recovery and rebuilding efforts, which was invaluable. Images of suffering from aftershocks sustained global interest, compassion continued to generate the much-needed funding to push away the rubble and reinforce the future strength of the people. Still, many sought to do more, go further, by going there. Desire to help? Absolutely transparent. Skills to offer? Not overtly clear. Knowing is one thing – going is another.

A year on, rubble remains despite surrounding rebuilding. International aid, heritage, hope, and humanity agencies continue to stand by the people of Nepal, acutely aware of the fact that rebuilding physical infrastructure is easy compared to rebuilding psychological stability. Action really needed: stay put and ask how best to act. Is if building funds? Is it building awareness? Is it building awareness?

Everyone, absolutely everyone, has the ability to help. The best way to maximise one’s impact? Ask what help is needed.

From Kathmandu to Tacloban, Sendai to other centres of crisis the world over, when the world is hit with unnatural horrors, something quite remarkable happens: as the skies fell, heroes rose.

The people of Nepal continue work tirelessly, daily, to ensure that one moment in time does not define who they are, and what their future holds. For the watching world, with hearts ready to jump into action, one of the most important things we can do, from wherever we are in the world, is this: never forget those who rise up once more. Their priceless determination is worth every measure of our hope, our help, and our hashtags.


Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2017