When Global Hearts Open

Southern Asia's earthshaking event has brought Earth's people closer. Few tragedies in history have opened so many hearts to so many victims. The last such global outpouring of compassion was after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade towers, where people of many nations also perished.

Such moments of shared mercy need to be more than remembered. This unusual drawing-together of billions of people must be sustained in many ways, long after the images of a tsunami's horrific power leave the TV news.

The millions of people who have lost loved ones, their homes and businesses, and entire villages need help for months, even years, through each afterstage of this calamity. The scale of the tragedy demands a continued global response. Only a combination of many nations and private aid groups - from US naval capabilities to a NGO medical unit - has the resources to address the needs of a scattered population the size of a country.

But also the magnitude of this disaster across some 11 nations, killing tens of thousands of people, argues for setting up new ways both to predict threats to health and safety and to organize regional responses to cope with them. Modern technologies now allow that kind of cooperation. Information can flow faster and wider, whether it's a seabed tsunami-warning system or an amateur video of a wave's strike shown on CNN. The efficiency of responses is also greater, whether it's mass donations on the Internet or better aircraft to assist the victims.

Year by year, with globalization and advances in organization and technology, the world is learning that it has less reason to be fearful or to feel helpless against disaster, and thus to avoid expressing the basic humanity of reaching around the globe to help others in dire need.

The lesson of this tragedy is that the world can think as one and then act as one. While action is essential, the collective thought of loving one another holds the power to heal.

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