Monday, July 25, 2011

Silver Lining

Prompt: Fukijima, Japan --- Mar 12, 2011

On March 12, 2011, Japan's Fukushimo nuclear reactor was threatened with a meltdown. The company responsible for operating the plant had tested it to withstand a 7.9 magnitude quake, which they considered the strongest possible.  The quake that actually threatened was a 9.0.

On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Centers in New York City were targeted by terrorists flying commercial airliners bound and fueled for cross-country flights.  The designers built the structure to withstand a crash by a single 747 jet.  They didn't foresee the power inherent in a dual attack by larger planes.

Are the designers and engineers responsible for these structures also responsible for their destruction?  Should  they have foreseen the damage that was done?  I don't think so.  It's not like they hadn't tested at all.  They prepared for what they considered the worst case scenario.  Unfortunately, the worst case turned out to be worse than what they imagined possible.

Unfortunately our human brain can only process certain levels of destruction.  No one believed a 9.0 magnitude earthquake was possible in Fukijima.  No sane person could imagine the actions of the 9/11 terrorists.  No one saw the Holocaust coming either.  The destructive power of chaos, whether natural or man-made, is something hard for humans to wrap their brains around.  We spend our lives guarding against the probable.  If we were to guard against every possibility we would spend all our time shoring up defenses and never try anything new.  If we did that we'd still be living in moat-surrounded castles.

When I worry about something too much, my husband puts a stop to it by reminding me there's an asteroid somewhere in the universe hurtling towards Earth and suggesting maybe I should worry about that for a while.  He's right, of course.  Some situations, while possible, are so far from the realm of plausible that they cannot be protected against.  Nor should we waste time contemplating them because the likelihood of them coming to pass is so remote.  But every now and again, these impossible situations do happen and when they do the results are devastating.  That's when we humans start second guessing ourselves and wondering why we didn't see it coming.

But we shouldn't.  We make the best protections against the situations we consider the most plausible and that's all we can do.  If we tried to protect against every possibility we would never advance.  Which would be another kind of tragedy.

Growth of any kind takes pain.  As painful as these events were, there was something else that emerged from them too.  After these tragedies, the human race seems to pull together.  It gets past it's stupid individualism and nationalism and helps those that need help.  As tragic as these events are, what I choose to take away from them is the power of the human spirit to overcome the situation.  It's a small sliver of a silver lining around an extremely dark cloud, but it is enough to give me a most precious commodity - hope.

Copyright © 2011 Denise Duggan

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