Have you seen the movie The Impossible? We just watched it last night and I would highly recommend it for anyone who doesn't know much about the tsunami that struck southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. The movie was a really touching portrayal of human compassion during one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.
When something happens like that, so seemingly far away and disconnected from your reality (Christmas in Texas with a family who had never been to Asia) it is hard to identify with the magnitude of the situation. But in 2008, when Mitch and I visited Thailand, the island of Koh Phi Phi still had heaps of trash and debris in the center, leftover from the tsunami 4 years before. A harrowing sight that made my stomach drop out a bit. Buildings were still being reconstructed from ruins and signs on the beaches warning of massive waves dotted the coastline of the popular beach from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach.
As is the case with most of our travels, it really opened my heart to those who are not in my immediate present. To me, this is one of the most important benefits to travel - the realization of just how similar all humans are - that everyone gets up and puts on pants in the morning. It is hard to disconnect from something when you can visualize your emotions and reactions under the same circumstances. Human empathy is a beautiful thing and I encourage anyone (with a heart) to watch The Impossible.