Rooney: The Tsunami Effect

<B>Andy Rooney</B> Looks Back At The Tsunami Disaster

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.

Ever since I learned what the word meant, I've wanted to say something about the tsunami.

It's hard to know what to say. I hear the reporters out there, viewing the dead bodies and they don't know what to say either. This includes my son, Brian.

We use so many superlatives for little things that we don't have any words left for something really important. We say "great" or "fantastic" all the time, but all we mean is "good."

Sooner or later, all of us turn everything toward ourselves. We wonder now what it would be like if we were hit with a tsunami, but we don't really think we could ever be wiped out, of course.

All of the great civilizations have always thought they were immortal. The Greeks and the Romans thought that before they collapsed.

If something awful happens to us, it's probably not going to be a natural disaster, like a tsunami, or anything as gradual as the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

It's going to be a nuclear bomb, poisoned water, or a disease-filled cloud blown our way.

Of course, we're doing a lot to ruin what we have without any help from an enemy. Our civilization just isn't what it used to be.

Our towns and cities are bigger, our farms are paved over, and life isn't as good for more people jammed into less space.

We're less educated than we were because we're spending more on war and less on schools. I bet our cumulative IQ is lower than it was 50 or 100 years ago.

We haven't been smart organizing ourselves in a way that gives us the best chance for a good future either. The growth of nationalism is malignant - not just here in America, where so many people are defiantly wearing our flag in their buttonholes - but in every country.

There isn't anything you can wear in your buttonhole to indicate you're a citizen of the world. We insist on being Chinese, French, Arab, American. The feeble attempt to work out problems in the United Nations is nice, but it's a failure.

The one good thing about this tsunami tragedy is it proves there is still decency left in the world. We are not all bad. We feel terrible about what has happened to people we never knew.

I gave money to the Red Cross this week and it made me feel good. I haven't always liked the Red Cross, but if my money puts a bandage on one wounded person, a little rice, or a sip of water in the mouth of someone who is hungry or thirsty, it's worth it.

It makes me feel good -- like part of a decent human race.
Written By Andy Rooney