The days leading up to Hurricane “Irma” making landfall in the continental United States, the night of her passing up through the State of Florida, and the immediate days following, have really put everyone to the test, in more ways than one.
I’m simply expressing things from my own personal POV, through my lens, the way I see the world around me.
The government and the public media, in my opinion, do the public a great service and DISservice. While on the one hand, great efforts are made to warn, inform and prepare the public, the same information, as presented by the media (who always serve an agenda and need ratings!) also doubles to incite fear, panic and greed, by sensationalizing and preying on people’s basic fears and instincts.
The average American has become very accustomed to what he/she considers to be a very convenient lifestyle of relative abundance, where everything is readily available and instant gratification is a mouse-click, a card-swipe, or a drive-thru away. The average middle or upper class American has little to no personal experience with actual lack or scarcity in terms of life’s necessities. We do live in relative daily “luxury”, by most commonly accepted measures.
Events like an impending natural disaster, like a major hurricane, have suddenly made commonplace items we normally take for granted a scarce and highly sought-after commodity. From bottled drinking water, to gasoline fuel, to certain food items, to building materials, and other ‘survival supplies’… within a very short time of a few days, these items flew of the shelves and out of stores, supplies quickly dried up, and people were suddenly confronted with the harsh economic reality of “supply and demand”.
This, in turn, brought out raw emotions in humans, whereby common social behavioral norms and courtesies were suddenly replaced by primal sensations and instincts of lack, greed, need and survival, all fueled by fear. As often is the case with times of hardship, these will tend to bring out either the very best in people or the very worst.
The reports of looters in Florida during the storm was especially troubling and heinous. While I am all for compassion and discretion in cases where people act out of desperation (e.g. stealing food, medical supplies, etc.), I feel that crimes committed knowingly and willfully during times of crisis or emergency should be more harshly prosecuted and punished. Times of genuine crisis and emergency are NOT for personal greed or unlawful gain. Instead, we should all double up on our efforts to reach out to one another and help each other through. By extension the same goes for people’s actions immediately following the crisis, during the aftermath. Not a time to go out on crime sprees for self-enrichment or other rip-off schemes.
Whereas modern society in the First World has become very self-absorbed in a convenient, everything’s always-on, always-available, “me me me” society, these moments of sudden crisis bring out the primal survivalist greed in people, yet at the same time many people are so woefully unaware just how critically and wholly dependent they have become on the luxuries of modern-day life in the First World. We simply need our electricity, our internet, our TV, our climate control, our automobiles, our mobile phones and digital devices, etc. etc. We have FORGOTTEN how to live when those things no longer work or are no longer available. These crises show us, even if for only a few days, how hard it is for modern man to live without those modern amenities. I would willingly wager $100 that any adult Amish person, or Aboriginal native would much more easily master the aftermath of a natural disaster.
How many of us can manage food, its storage and preparation without a modern kitchen? Can you make it through several days, functioning fully without electricity (or generators of such)? How good are you at managing your pensum of water, without plumbed running water available? How good are YOUR camping or general survival skills? (using your wallet and/or internet does not count!). The average modern family is already pretty much at a complete loss having to spend at least 24 hours without electricity, water and internet. Throw in mobile telephone service, too!
Other than advanced Scouts (Boys or Girls) and/or people with extensive military training, most average people in modern society are painfully unsuited and ill-prepared to handle daily life without modern amenities. Mainstream media and opinion like placing the “Preppers” in a questionable, often laughable light, almost calling into question their motives (or sanity?). I’m willing to place another bet that people who would consider themselves a “prepper” were probably well-equipped to deal with something like “Irma”. This was a good test for their level of preparedness and aforethought. Maybe we should all read a “prepper”-book or two and see what helpful things we can all implement.
I’m probably fairly safe in assuming that many Floridians will be improving their “disaster preparedness” in the coming weeks and months, as “Irma” quickly revealed our shortcomings to each and every one of us. Perhaps a good time to take stock and inventory and procure those things we need, and brush up on the skills we lack.
As we rebuild and recover from this storm, and as our lives return to some semblance of a “Pre-Irma Normal”, we need to be very grateful for what we HAVE, what we KEPT, what we were SPARED, despite our losses, whatever shape they may take, and no, for much of our individual (and collective) losses there will NOT be “adequate” compensation, but rather just the knowledge that everything could have been worse, much worse.