Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As Seen from Outer Space

When I see photos of the earthquake and tsunami aftermath in Japan, the images are quite shocking. It’s as if you are looking at something that can’t possibly be real. Entire communities literally swept away. One minute there and the next...gone. I moved to Seattle in 1983, three years after Mt. St. Helens blew her top and you could still walk through that area in complete disbelief that it was real. Entire forests were laid flat and stripped of life. They laid there like millions of giant toothpicks in patterns of lines and swirls across thousands of acres of mountainside. The force of nature was beyond comprehension.

When I think of areas such as Fukushima, Japan, or Christchurch, New Zealand, or Port Au Prince, Haiti, or the oil-slicked Gulf Coast, it makes me wonder where is the line? Over which spot was it OK? Did someone “miss the bullet” so to speak by being in one spot and not another?

Photos taken from the Space Station are stunningly beautiful and I could gaze at them for hours – something that I imagine is one of the things that consume much of the astronauts’ free time... But it reminds me that there are no borders for disasters. There is no clear line over which disaster may not go. Natural disasters, at least, care not for historical structures or the location of schools. They care not for who lives in the building, the town or the ocean. They simply happen.

So when we prepare for disasters, do we worry about where those lines are drawn? Which stuff is mine, or yours, or whose responsibility is it? If we look from outer space, there are no lines, no arrows, no absolutes. Just a planet with people, places and things. So, let’s all pitch in and get ready, for you, your neighbor, that guy across town or across the ocean.

We are all in this together. Go Earth!

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