Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Lesson in survival

The last couple of weeks, we had the horrific situation in northern Japan. A large 9.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean causing a tremendous Tsunami.

The devastation was astounding. Since video cameras are so ubiquitous, there was amazing footage of the waves and subsequent aftershocks. The waves looked like something out of an old "B" movie. Watching wave after wave of water go across rural farm land and flow right into the cities, left me speechless. The sheer force of the water took houses, businesses, yachts, navy destroyers, cars, buses, everything along with it. It all was flowing unobstructed. It reminded me of two things.

Those old Godzilla movies, where I could see toy boat sloshing around in a fake scale harbor. It was so fake looking, but was photographed to look somewhat realistic. It also reminded me of some of the video footage that has been around so long of nuclear testing and the immense devastation that the blast and mushroom cloud would make. It looked just as if I was within the storm it self; as close as their cameras were to the waves.

I also saw a few segments by reporters after the water receded and cars were everywhere. There was even a boat precariously perched on top of a house.

This all made me think of preps and being prepared in general, including their necessity and if that would do any good in such a situation.

My wife and I saw a news story where the news anchor was talking with a Red Cross spokesperson. This man was discussing the importance of being prepared for a disaster and was showing a Red Cross emergency preparedness kit. The kit contained some basic first aid supplies, 3 days of survival food and packets of emergency water. My wife commented that that looked somewhat like the 72hr. packs that I made up for each member of our family.

It all made me ponder an important question. As a preparedness minded person, with 72hr. kits, storage food and water, survival skills...would you be prepared for something like what happened in Japan? With anything close to that level of destruction and mayhem, I believe the answer would be "no". And that includes all of us. No amount of preps can withstand a tidal wave that can move buildings and vehicles through a city.

Don't get me wrong, the need to prepare is still paramount. There are many other smaller disasters that can bring those systems to bear as well and we need to be ever vigilante in preparing for them.

This has made me do some thinking on preps though. If none of the skills, equipment or training can be used; the only thing left is your mind.

The mind is ever powerful. It can control your perceptions as well as your ability to handle adverse situations. It also controls how you will make choices. It reminded me of a quote from the Victor Frankl book, "Man's search for meaning."

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances. to choose one's own way."

This passage was so profound for me and reminds me daily that no matter how difficult life may get, we can control at least one thing. That was evident in Nazi concentration camps and I've even seen it among the tirelessly strong people of Japan.

I saw a reporter interview a small family that was sitting among the ruins of their home and city eating a meal. After the reporter completed the interview, one man offered offered the reporter and her crew some food. That was amazing. Though I will never know that man, his generosity will always inspire me.

Koneechewa to all my friends in Japan. Take care and stay strong.


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