Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the Tsunami disaster is the loss of so many children, almost simultaneously. Many more in the next weeks wills succumb to injury and disease in the absence of adequate medical care. From In the Loss of Young Lives Far Too Soon, The World Is Gripped by a Special Grief,
in today's Post, Libby Copeland discusses the loss:
The waters rushed in and the waters retreated and at least a third of the bodies left behind were those of children.
In one picture from India, a father carries his son. The son's head flops, the grave worker's arms extend like the arms of Hades to take the child to the underworld. There is no morality in nature; if there were, a parent would never have to cradle his dead child.
Now, on the other side of the world, there are thousands of children being buried in mass graves, or starving and vulnerable to disease from dirty water and dead bodies. It is on a scale too big to imagine, so you think about it small, think about what it does to parents when their future is gone.
It was irrational, Lifton says, but many of those parents felt responsible for their children's deaths. It was their duty to shepherd their own flesh to adulthood. They failed.
Newspapers give two numbers: the number killed and the number of children killed, as if they are separate populations. The Beslan school hostage crisis in Russia: more than 170 children. The Oklahoma City bombing: 19. Columbine: 12.
Part of the reason so many of the tsunami's dead are children has to do with demographics. In most of the 12 countries affected, 30 to 50 percent of the population is younger than 18, according UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. The agency also cites eyewitness accounts indicating that children had trouble holding onto trees and other stable objects that might have kept them from being swept away. What of the parents who were able to save some of their children at the expense of others? What of the parents who were unable to save any? What of the parents who still don't know?