Friday, September 16, 2011

Living on Luck: Making Emergency Preparedness a Lived Reality

Countries that have been (so far) fortunate enough to escape the catastrophe that has befallen Haiti and Japan must feel lucky. But with luck should come awareness of the strategies/measures that must be put in place to ensure that, should the elements of nature decide to pour their solid, liquid or gaseous wrath in our direction, they will be in a position to still escape catastrophe through forethought and proper planning and preparation.

Preparedness must replace the luck mentality. And I see no place where a strong belief in luck or an unwavering testament to people’s faith in God’s providence is more evident than in Jamaica - the nation with the most churches per square mile.

Every year, around hurricane season, the piousness and religious zeal of Jamaican people increases thousandfold, as they cross fingers, toes, hands and feet, blot their house doors with the cross and pray for the providence of God to help them through another rough, potentially devastating season. The problem with that approach is - many of them survive the season relatively unscathed, and as a result, their belief in their luck's never-ending supply gets bolstered, even as the folly of their unpreparedness and refusal to prepare remains veiled to them.

At the end of it, they throw up their hands, utter a “Tenky Jesus” and carry on until the next hurricane season, and the next season of their mixture of fear, faith and luck.

I have no problem with God or religion. And I certainly have no grouse with Jamaicans being a people of faith. But let’s make this biblical: Faith without works - sensible, WISE works - is dead. Their failure to see that ‘luck’, ‘providence’, or whatever they call it, can run out, whereas good sense, proper planning and detailed preparation will always prevail, is what disturbs me.

We could easily move from the ‘maybe I’ll make it this year’ feeling of uncertainty to the confident statement of, ‘yes, I am prepared’. Damages could be minimised and it would cost this country less if we would stop living on luck, and starting living out emergency disaster preparedness, until it is ingrained in our culture, like it was in Japan’s.

And we should take instruction from the fact that despite their superior levels of preparation, Japan still endured more than they were able to bear. What about us - who are not prepared at all??

1 comment:

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Well-written, Ruthibelle.

Unfortunately, living on luck is how most of humanity exists. Look at how people treat their health, their money, their environment.

Of course, all this can change if governments AND people decide to do things differently.