Why more people will care about the earthquake in New Zealand than the revolution in Libya

About 200,000 thousand Americans traveled to New Zealand last year. Total tourist arrivals to the country were more than 2.5 million.

In turn, Libya saw a grand total of 50,000 tourists. Few were from the United States because the Libyan government had a ban on American tourists until June of 2010.

Been there

My reaction to the quake in New Zealand was much greater than that of when I heard about the chaos and the violence in Libya. I know that it’s silly to compare a natural disaster with political upheaval – the acts of men vs acts of nature – so why is it that military aircraft (reportedly) gunning down civilians doesn’t leave me as concerned as an earthquake?

I spent two months in New Zealand in 2002, hitchhiking thousands of miles and landing hundreds of rides. When I think of New Zealand I think of a Kiwi farmer, a rafting guide, a window deliveryman, a single mom, and many others who let me into their lives. My adventure began in Christchurch, so it has a special place in my New Zealand experience. Seeing crumbled building after crumbled building in Christchurch on the news moves me.

Saw it on the news

Besides that I’ve been there, those pictures on the news play a part too. More of us will be moved by the protest in Egypt than the one in Libya because we saw it on TV. I criticized reporters like Lester Holt and Anderson Cooper for becoming part of the story, but if they were on the ground in Libya capturing stories and faces, we’d all care a lot more about what’s going on there.

I also think that Muammar Qaddafi would have been less like to order Libyan aircraft to gun down protesters if there were more reporters on the ground. When the world is watching, less people die.

It’s only natural to care more about a place more when you’ve been there, but that doesn’t make it right.

What recent news story has hit closest to home for you?

Andrea says:

We are currently in NZ and have been absolutely rocked by the Christchurch earthquake story. Travelling here for the last nine weeks and living in Australia for the last five years has put us in touch with many Kiwis, all who seem to have family and friends affected by the disaster. It is just very, very sad.

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