As the Jakarta floods deepened, politicians praised the gotong royong (working together) values shown by residents struggling against the rushing waters.
Meanwhile in coastal towns around Sydney and Melbourne, the same cheer was being sent to citizens fleeing devastating bushfires: Applause for “communities’ self-help spirit”.
“These natural events have happened before, and we’ve pulled through,” said the elected leaders in both countries. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Be patient.”
They larded sermons with statements about national resilience, cooperation and mutual aid as though these human qualities are confined within borders drawn on maps.
For a moment such declarations felt comforting until the victims realized what was missing: money and clear policies.
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