Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Running On Someone Else's Beach

One morning in February 2007, I was out for a run along the beach. It wasn't the Gulf of Mexico, but rather the Indian Ocean on the southeast coast of India.

Just two years before, the great Christmas Tsunami had ravaged the coastline of this part of India, bringing unimaginable devastation to the town of Mahabalipuram.

As the miles and the coastal fishing villages passed by me, the signs were evident everywhere: Empty shells of buildings, water lines over 12 feet up the trunks of palm trees, and bare foundations where homes once stood. It was was sobering to even the most optimistic of people.

The devastation and destruction were great, but life continued. Boats were repaired, nets were mended, and fishermen engaged in their generations-old practice of challenging the sea for their sustenance. 

What I learned later was this: The fishermen weren't the only ones who suffered at the hands of the Christmas Tsunami. It was the farmers who had an even greater challenge because the seawater pushed inland, in some places for miles, effectively poisoning the fertile farmland for years.

Bare brown land was all that was visible, but to the farmers who depended on that same land, they saw the end of life.

Media coverage of the Tsunami devastation was focused on resorts and places of wealth. Most of the news reports were limited to westerners who had their vacations interrupted.

I did not hear about the fishing village devastation from the media. I had to experience it firsthand as I ran along the beach. The farming losses were not visible to me, but were only brought to my attention by the locals. Had I not been there, I would have remained ignorant of the real plight of the people there.

What can I bring to us from this story:
  • We must look deeper than what is seen by those who feed us information.
  • We need to look further than what is visible on the surface.
  • People who live outside of our worlds deal with the realities of life everyday also.
  • Sometimes it's good to get off of our treadmills and run on someone else's beach.

Question: What have you seen as you have run on someone else's beach? Share your thoughts below in 'comments'.

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