Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Once Again, Life is Not Fair.

The thunder woke us up last night.  Shortly after, the power went out.  The noise and the sweating kept us all up for a long while.

For us, big storms are just inconvenient.  The roads are flooded, we can't get our laundry to dry, and we deal with no electricity.  But as I lay there last night, inconvenienced, I couldn't help but think about the many in this city--just a few miles from me--who are genuinely suffering because of the rain.

There are tens of thousands of people in this city who live on flood plains.  Every time we get a big storm--and this is the tropics, so that happens often--five feet of sewage fills their homes.  Every year, dozens of people die from flooding.

In just the past few weeks, the government has been trying to get a handle on the flood problem by clearing the flood plains.  Bulldozers are coming in and knocking down thousands of homes.  Most of these people did not own the land, but some have title deeds, sold to them by unscrupulous men who should never have sold it.  Thousands of people are now homeless.  Some have committed suicide.  Some have put up shacks in the places where their homes once stood.

photo source BBC news, here
It would be easy to sit back from a distance and objectively say, "Well, they've got to solve the flooding problem somehow."  But I have a good friend who lives in one of these areas.  She and her family bought their land legitimately, and they have papers to show for it.  They built their house with their own blood, sweat, and tears.  They knew the were in a flood zone, so they elevated the house and built canals for the water.  The area floods, but their house does not.
They've created a good life for themselves, as both she and her husband are extremely hard workers.  Just a few weeks ago, they had scrimped and saved enough money to get electricity installed.  They were so proud.

Then, last weekend, some officials came by and painted a bright red X on their house.  Their house has been chosen for demolition.

I'm not casting blame in this situation, either on the government or anyone else.  I don't fully understand the intricacies of the system, so I don't know what justice should look like.  My friend tells me that the government has promised to relocate the people who have genuine title deeds.

I'm just sitting here, on my laptop computer, listening to the rain in my watertight house, wondering how I'm going to get my laundry to dry.  I'm thinking about the unfairness of life because I'm not worried about bulldozers suddenly appearing and knocking down my house.  I'm not even worried about my house flooding.

It's true that disaster strikes the rich and the poor alike, but the poor suffer so much more.  There just does not seem to be any good answers.  I'm conflicted, and sad, and tired.

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