Eunice takes us to the Gangway this week with some words on how we should view survivors of a catastrophic disaster.. and how we should act to support them.. -dc
A Thought from the Gangway
Disaster and Rebirth are stuck together like two sides of one coin. They are one thing.
It is imbalances of power- neither good nor evil. It exists. And it is dynamic. It’s our reactions, responses and relation, individually and together, to its existence that makes up the entirety of our lives. And it brings out our humanness.
Survivors of catastrophic disaster are like the lamb or newborn infant. They are in the weakest form of humanness. Do we blame a newborn infant for its weakness and inability to figure life out? Do we expect a newborn infant to understand it’s unfamiliar surroundings? That newborn infant only knows that it is cold for the first time. Hungry for the first time. Alone for the first time. And afraid, needing to be comforted with a blanket and eye contact. So it is with catastrophic disaster survivors. The human senses are all screwed up. Would we leave alone a nursery full of newborn infants with plenty enough formula-filled bottles in the nursery pantry? Or even would we leave them alone with a bottle full of formula in the foot of their individual cribs?
Sending emergency relief and medical supplies into a disaster without the immediate means of local distribution and communication within a broken distribution infrastructure is like leaving the bottles of formula in the foot of the cribs and expecting the newborn infants to make the connection and survive and thrive.
If you have ever been through the process of giving birth, those closest to the situation will remember those sleepless and fearful first days and nights which flowed into weeks and months without surfacing for air. You were in it thick. You were trying to figure out how to communicate with your infant. You cried a lot. But you were also amazed a lot at the little things you were witness to. The most blatantly pure form of imbalance of power and pure potential can be seen in a mother and infant learning how to make the connection in breastfeeding. It is nature’s supply and demand at its best. And it requires a support network of those closest to the situation. When it works poorly, it can mean failure to thrive for the infant and self blame for the mother and support system.
So it is with catastrophic disaster. If supply and demand doesn’t work well, it might mean failure to thrive for the survivors as individuals and as a neighborhood. Their potential may be stunted. And for the rest of us…we are left with a horrendous feeling of guilt and shame and division and blame.
So the moral of this narrative is: Let’s get it right. Even if it takes our lifetime.
And let’s forgive ourselves and others for not truly understanding what we are up against.