More In Tune Or More To Tune In?

My God, look at Japan.

People clinging to rooftops for days; loved ones washed out to sea; all of their personal possessions never to be recovered; entire trains and boats full of people just disappeared; eruptions coming on top of tsunamis, coming on top of earthquakes. Nuclear power plants shaking apart and leaking dangerous gases into the air. One piece of news footage spoke for all the desperation of the people. It showed a woman sitting on a beach just sobbing into her hands--not knowing where to go, what to do, who to call--completely helpless.

Imagine going through even a portion of this terror. Maybe you are in your late forties, early fifties; kids in college, job secure, heading toward comfortable retirement, two cars in the garage, a little money in the bank – then the water comes in and drags it all out to sea—and in a matter of minutes, the world you took a half century to assemble is gone. No home, no job, no family (maybe), no way to know if they are alright, no money, no plan, no way out—nothing!

Clearly, lives are irrevocably altered and the Japan they knew all their lives will never be the same after this devastation. Now, I know that there have been a lot of apocalyptic claims in regard to the many natural disasters that have befallen our globe in the past few years, and I will readily admit I find some of this to appear a lot more Biblical than coincidental. But I have to tell you I never heard the word tsunami until a few years ago. I know there was something similar in the Philippines when I was really young and I know that devastation in foreign lands didn’t just begin when I started to hear about it, but I have been consistently hearing about tsunamis for the past five years now. I’m certain I never did before.

So one question comes to mind as we see all of the worldwide tragedies before our eyes--did our increased, immediate and visual access, via the Internet and related “global” news/communication tools bring these stories to the forefront and make them all seem more frequent, or are they really happening at a faster pace?

International news used to be the last 5 minutes of Walter Cronkite’s nightly news report; at best grainy and choppy black-and-white film from the fields of Korea and Vietnam. Now, my son sits in our living room and plays video games with kids on three different continents, Skypes with a “video pal” in Helsinki, Finland and pulls up an Asian manufacturer’s troubleshooting guide every time his hand-held DS game malfunctions.

In the 1990s, they called it “going global,” now they just call it “our world.” Are there more natural disasters and global chaos than ever before or are we just seeing more because the tools to see it are refined, available and right in our living rooms?

I’d like to know what you think. Was it always this bad?

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at