The image of being caught in a wave changed for me when I met a young mother in Banda Aceh in 2006. She had been swept into the 2004 Christmas tsunami wave that together with its preceding magnitude 9 earthquake had killed 1 out of 3 people in that city on Sumatra island, Indonesia. The official tally of deaths from that duel event was epic, so epic, that the counting stopped at about a quarter of a million. Deaths were recorded as far away as Africa.
There is another wave I want to dedicate this blog post to. It happened so long ago that it has vanished out of our collective memory. Yet if we care enough to put the pieces together, we can step by step see how we got to the place we are at today. There are two languages. Always have been. One language is our everyday language. It is the language of order, the language of power, the language of science, the language of math. It is well structured and extremely useful in the world of business to keep things straight.
There is another language. It doesn’t care about the niceties of structure. Matter of fact, it works best in no structure at all. It is plastic and can form to any situation. It is the language of survival and regeneration. Unfortunately this language has been relegated to the world of the human lower nature or a more animal or primitive nature. How that happened, I do not know. This second language is our saving grace in catastrophic disaster.
Now I am going to go way back in time… If I have my facts correct, roughly 2000 years ago, a man began teaching us about this second language. It was never to be used as a political language or as a language of structure. It was to understand what was happening in catastrophic disaster. And to be able to communicate with and help survivors. Now go forward to the time of Constantine when the language was mainstreamed into a power structure.
Then fast forward to today.
When Naomi Klein notes that we need to deal with our foundational issues when dealing with our disaster responses, I contend we need to look way farther back than 1776 (for US). A language that was meant to get us through the random catastrophic times in life, was overtaken and absorbed into the language of structure and order. It changed into a domination language. That confused humanity’s ability to see the difference between the two languages. Now we blame the Victim and see our selves as good for responding that way. We took what was suppose to be not of this world order and changed it into… of this world order. The language of survival and regeneration was suppose to be for survivors and responders of catastrophe, not for politicians. Now we can’t even understand how a single act of giving of oneself can start a disaster-destroyed neighborhood’s heart beating again.