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Leadership Thought #413 – What Disasters Tell Us About Ourselves

October 31, 2012

Free Dramatic view of village houses damaged by thunderstorm Stock Photo

Sometimes a disaster can bring out the good in people.

At this point, I believe most of the people who have weathered   are through the worst of it.  At least I hope so.  Sadly, it has been a tragic experience for many individuals and families with homes devastated and even worse lives lost.  It’s startling how quickly a disaster comes and can change in our lives.  You can never fully predict what tomorrow will bring.

There is a certain randomness to a natural disaster which is hard to explain.  Sure, we have weather forecasters who are diligent about keeping us informed, but they can’t even predict where the damage will be worst and who will be the most affected.  People on opposite sides of the same street can have completely different experiences.  I’ve seen pictures where a tornado wipes out one house and leaves the one next to it completely untouched.  I imagine that when you are one of the unfortunate victims of these events you struggle a long time to understand why you were the unlucky one. The truth is it could have been any one of us.

The good news is that most of the time our shared mortality brings us together even in the most divisive times.  The last few years it’s been easy to focus on what divides us.  Political campaigns don’t always bring out the best in people.  In addition, current economic conditions have made many of us impatient for easy answers to complex problems.  It becomes far too easy to point fingers and cast blame.  Positive change can never happen quickly enough to suit its intended recipients.  However, there are moments when we are forced to realize we are all in this thing called life together and should support one another.  We rally together and focus on what’s most important at a family, community, county, state, national and international level.

I’m not sure why it takes a crisis to bring out the best in people, but I am glad it does.  The alternative would be much worse and would be a symptom that something is fundamentally broken in a society.  Despite our current hardships, we have much to be grateful for here in the United States.  We will get through this tragic event and comfort and take care of those in need because that is what we do.   As Americans, we have a shared destiny and responsibility to one another. We can never forget this…