Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Earth Wants Us to Listen

Mother Earth has shook herself again... Just a few weeks ago in New Zealand and now in Japan. In this day of high technology and smart phones and instantaneous broadcasts, we all stopped in our tracks and stood and watched in horror as the images of that 8.9 quake literally shook the life from many Japanese.

And yet, many say, they were lucky in that Japan has the most advanced early warning system on earth to warn people when an earthquake is detected. Now, granted, that “early warning” means a minute or less, but that could mean you’d have time to find a sturdy table or desk, or race to the car in tsunami prone areas. However, many images that I saw defied any sense that it could have mattered.

Japan is known for its preparedness for earthquakes, since this is a place known for such natural occurrences. I have read many times that they are all well trained and know what to do. Yet, the images I saw were quite clear – people STOOD near their desks as things topped around them. People RAN across their offices to stand IN DOORWAYS. A person stood next to a high, fully loaded grocery shelf, ARMS UP, trying to keep it upright. People RAN out of buildings while boulder sized chunks of building smashed to the ground around them.

Maybe it is the Emergency Management Coordinator in me, but I was thinking, “Where is the Drop Cover and Hold On” technique everyone trains to do? Why are people running out of buildings where we KNOW things fall off and have killed many people? Where is your training?

The answer is not simple, nor clear. How could I possibly in the comfort of my own home judge what I would really do in such a violent event? Honestly, I don’t, but it does remind me that we don’t practice enough. If you want to learn to play a game, do you only play it once in a while and expect to know how to play well, or play to win? Of course not. Take the game of golf, an area where I actually do have some expertise. You get instructions, then you hit practice balls. THOUSANDS of them and practice some more. Eventually, your body learns what to do so you don’t even have to think about it. This is what we really need to do: Practice until our body does the right thing before our brain (in panic, fear) short-circuits what we practiced.

I feel tremendous sorrow for the people of Japan, New Zealand, Haiti – they have all suffered tremendously and will continue to for some time. So, for them, and FOR US, I want to remind everyone that practice you should, and, if I have my way, practice we shall.

There are ways to survive and survive well. We just need to listen. And practice.

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