Monday, January 16, 2012

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Monday, January 16, 2012

Disaster plans.

Our hearts go out to all who have been lost. The story of the Costa Concordia is still to be written as emergency crews search for survivors in the overturned cruise ship off the West coast of Italy. Questions are emerging about the adequacy of the ship's preparedness for a disaster and the timeliness of the initial response to the grounding.

If you dig through the layers of many ancient cities you will encounter what are known as destruction layers - typified by the presence of blackened or broken masonry indicating that a city was periodically put to the torch or subjected to natural catastrophe and its inhabitants beset by tragic circumstances. It is a given that disasters will take place. They are a part of the history of human communities.

As you look at the rubble and the blackened bricks you wonder what the people were thinking and what they did to alleviate their own distress and that of others. Human stories from ancient disasters are hard to come by but we do have modern analogies.

In such tragic circumstances two sets of stories frequently emerge: In one set of stories those in responsibility abandon their post. In so doing they abandon those they are meant to be caring for. In another set of stories some germ of human worth dominates. Places in lifeboats are given to others - the weak and the infirm are thrown over the shoulders of the able-bodied and carried to safety. Plans are worked out on the backs of envelopes by torchlight and everybody shoulders the task they've been given and performs it admirably.

Do you have a disaster plan?

What will you take with you?

How will you preserve the life around you and, in so doing, your own humanity?

In our disaster plans we must give thought, not only to our passports, our wallets and our credit cards but also to our nobility, our responsibility, and our love of strangers.

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