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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog - Thinking of Christchurch (Are We There Yet?)

Thinking of Christchurch

Last updated 07:30 23/02/2011
I had the usual frothy blog lined up for today. But I cannot write it. How can I, when a tragedy of the sort of magnitude I have never seen so close before has devastated Christchurch; indeed a tragedy of a magnitude that New Zealand may not have seen before.

Journalists toss words like tragedy around freely. But as the reality of what had struck the city became clear in the hours after the quake, it felt comparable to only one thing - watching the endless replay of the footage of the Twin Towers falling in 2001.

It was the same mixture of horror from knowing this is real and a feeling close to deju vu from seeing the same sort of thing in fiction so many times before.

I am luckier than so many. I have no friends or family in Christchurch to fear for or mourn. I have no personal pain to report - I've only visited the city twice. And yet, it makes the empathy I want to express sound disingenuous.

Sometimes, when an event of this nature happens at home, it brings out self-righteousness of a particular vein. It is pointed out that this sort of tragedy happens in some countries every day and yet it doesn't provoke such an emotional response.

Well no. And I imagine that's because we don't relate in the same way. It's somewhere  else, someone else - it's not so shocking. I'm not saying that's right, but I do think it's the way it is.

Because that it was here, that it was Christchurch, is a shock. It just feels like it shouldn't be so.

The big one, the destructive one, we all believed was going to strike Wellington. This too would be tragic and not something I wish upon my city, a city that I love. But it would not be wholly unexpected.

I can't shake the feeling that it shouldn't be happening in Christchurch and yet it was, and yet it did.

As I heard the news that Fairfax colleagues were trapped in The Press building as what had been an ordinary lunchtime in a normal Tuesday turned into anything but, I realised the cliches are more than meaningless platitudes. Life is precious and uncertain. There are some moments when you know this is the truth.

Unfortunately the clarity of this truth will probably not stay with me as long as it should.

It will not help but at this precise moment it's all I can offer: Christchurch you have my thoughts and my sorrow.

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