Hosting a Disaster???

The term, Hosting, is used by international government officials when describing nations who have events such as the Olympic Games. For instance, the host nation for the winter Olympics 2010 was Canada. The traditions of hosting go back to ancient cultures. It was the responsibility of the host to “equalize” the stranger. Host is the root word for hospital, a place for a “stranger” to be brought back to health. It is the root word for hospitality – the stranger is fed and lodged and basic needs are met.
Now consider catastrophe. The host is not the location where the event occurred. Nor is it the survivor. The host is the responder, whether individual, organization, government or foreign nation. As responders, what kind of hospitality are we providing?
This thought is from:
Comprehending Chaos, A Framework for Understanding Disaster, Class #12 Ramifications Part 2, What Am I Dealing With Here?

1 thought on “Hosting a Disaster???”

  1. Interesting post, Eunice. What you describe feels like a reversal, in a sense, of the usual role of a host. I tend to think of the host as the one who has both the responsibility the authority – through their connection to the place – to take care of the visitors or guests, as you describe. In the case of the disaster where the ones connected to the place are also the ones suffering, then the “responsibility to care for the others” role may be flipped with the visitors who specifically have come to help. But I would argue that the host’s “authority to make decisions” about allocation of resources that might be needed is not necessarily relinquished or superseded by the disaster event.

    I think that’s where a lot of confusion comes in. Because we associate our helping role with a kind of “authority” to allocate resources in relation to the those we’re helping, we somehow tend to be more ok with superseding the autonomy of those we’re trying to help – possibly through projecting a kind of “infant” role on those being helped.

    We might think of ourselves as “hosts” when we enter a disaster responder role, but I think we need to be careful that we recognize that it does not necessarily come with a shift of authority away from the local survivors.

    If we see a disaster responder as a “supporting” role rather than a “helping” role, maybe that would make it easier to remember that we are supporting local survivors who, unless they’re unconscious or clinically insane, maintain the decision-making authority.

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