With organizations instantly setting up donation drives and people lending their talents and businesses to show compassion for those in need, you’d think a crisis would bring out only the best in people. On the contrary.
Insensitivity, toxic positivity, opportunistic tendencies—these are some of the things that unfortunately bob to the surface while other people deal with life-threatening disasters. It should be common sense and decency to be mindful of other people’s situations, especially if you’re talking from a place of privilege. But if you need reminding, here , these are some things that you should please, please stop doing during times of calamity.
Preaching about “resilience”
Every time typhoon season starts, we brace ourselves for comments romanticizing our “resilience” in the face of adversity. We are tenacious, we are positive-minded, we are persistent—that’s what they say. But what is often missing from the narrative is that we are suffering, too. Romanticizing resilience normalizes the suffering and dismisses the hardships faced by calamity victims. The damage has been done so they have no choice but to be stoic, to bear it and make the most of a situation they have no control of.
Preaching about “resilience” during calamities also becomes an easy ticket out for government officials to brush off their incompetence. Why would they take the initiative to fix the drainage or ban quarrying when they can just praise people for their “resilience,” right?
Airing insensitive comments
Social media truly is the bane of our existence, especially during typhoons when people write tone-deaf comments. What you write as “cozy” or “bed weather” on your Facebook status or Instagram post may be a traumatic experience to those who have lost their homes, livelihood and maybe even their loved ones. Recall that iconic scene from the 2019 film “Parasite” directed by Bong Joon-ho where the rich Mrs. Park calls the rain “such a blessing,” while the poor Kim family struggles to keep their heads above water in their flooded basement shack.
During the onslaught of supertyphoon Rolly, a journalist tweeted about witnessing a delivery guy get knocked off his bike by the wind. After years of calling out people for taking advantage of delivery personnel during situations that can put them in danger, it’s disappointing to see this happening. Even if it’s convenient for you to order in because of the raging storm outside, consider how the same disastrous weather can put delivery personnel in danger and practice more compassion. Should other people put their safety on the line just so you can have your favorite burger?
Taking advantage of the situation
This applies more to politicians and businessmen, who use calamity victims as convenient props or background to their handshaking or aid-distribution photo op in aid of re-election. Instead of a one-off relief drive that would probably be immortalized in a tarpaulin for an election campaign, why not use the disaster to sponsor bills on rehabilitation and housing for those affected by calamities, or maybe start a work-for-food program? Stop using other people’s misery for your advantage.
Header photo from Rep. Hector Sanchez of Red Cross Catanduanes
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