By Wayne William Cipriano
We can’t prepare for everything that might go wrong in our lives. When we list those possible problems, that list gets very long: fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, nuclear wars or accidents, insect invasions, volcanic eruptions, famines, loss of necessary commodities like coal or natural gas for electrical production, the list gets long quickly, and then there are medical epidemics.
How can anyone be expected to prepare for all? Of course, we can’t. And consider the large number of disasters that are of such magnitude that we as individuals or families just can’t affect. There are some precautions we can take personally and in small groups but our social system is such that we are plainly interdependent to such a degree that a serious disaster of just about any type, like a stone dropped into a lake, has surprisingly wide ripples.
Do we then say, “What’s the use? Why prepare at all? Preparing for something that might never happen is a waste of resources?” Some may, but most of us realize there are some things that can be done in advance of just about any disaster that will cushion the impact it will have on us – the greatest of these is planning. Some others? Water, food, and delivery systems of both, general medical care, agencies to provide social order, electricity, communication networks, and a few others I have not thought of.
After those general needs, help during a disaster is contingent upon its nature. We can’t possibly prepare for each one beyond planning. We just do not have the resources (personnel, money, space, training, etc.). So, once we have set up some general response modes that will pretty much aways be useful, we cannot get down on leaders, from familial to national, nor on those they have selected to help them when one specific disaster occurs and necessarily overwhelms our ability to cope temporarily.
When that unexpected but possible disaster does arrive, responsibility does as well.
When were we first aware of the nature and scope of the problem? Did we face it honestly and directly? How quickly did we react rationally in response? How well did we use what assets we had appropriately? How effective was that use? How soon did we moderate our responses as we evaluated how well they were working? How quickly and how well did we replace exhausted assets and how well were they distributed?
And, most importantly, did we have a plan, a rough sketch, a general idea of what to do when this or that problem arose? As the Champ says, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” But did we try to prepare, did we have, at least, a plan?
Blaming some for not having all the assets required for a specific disaster among hundreds of other potential disasters is wasteful and juvenile. Lauding the good-faith responses, even those that turned out to be unhelpful and were quickly revamped, are exercises for the future when the disaster’s consequences have receded Having an available plan constructed by those most competent to do so and then stepping up in a crisis and bringing to bear what we have is the badge of a civilized society, be it a family or a nation.
It is that behavior, what we did when we knew things were going bad, upon which we as individuals and as a nation should be judged.