Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

I was going to call this post "The Titanic Syndrome," but no one is interested in the Titanic just now. Everyone online seems to be creating a deluge of words in opining about the deluge in New Orleans.

The responses are predictable. Let the blame game and finger pointing begin. So far, I've read apocalyptic rants. The is the first domino in a chain whose falling will mean the end of the world as we know it. Global warming caused it. Bush caused it because he ignored global warming. Funds for the civil infrastructure of flood prevention were cut to pay for the war in Iraq. There aren't enough helicopters and National Guard because they're in Iraq. Bush was speechifying in San Diego when he should have been speechifying in New Orleans. Etc. ad infinitum ad nauseum.

I call what is happening now the Titanic Syndrome. A disaster occurs. Terrible loss of life is incurred. Oh, the humanity! Overreaction happens. Investigations are launched. Conclusions are reached. Some measures may be taken to render a failed system less prone to future failure. People settle down and go back to whatever they were doing before It happened. Complacency sets in. Other vulnerable systems remain unattended to. Other disasters happen. Lather, rinse, repeat. Everything is clear in hindsight. All accidents were preventable, all disasters could have been averted.

We are the victims of our own nature. No one plans a grand venture and simultaneously plans for its failure. Optimism and denial operate. You don't build the Titanic and also run imaginary worst case scenarios about its sinking. It's not in our nature to be full of optimism for the future of a grand enterprise and also be pessimistic about it at the same time. We don't think that way. We never will.

The survivors of Katrina's damage need attending to. The physical damage must be repaired. It will be.

All the rest is wasted energy. And there will be similar events in the future and we won't prepare completely for them either. Reality may approach, but never reach an imagined ideal. When we contemplate the shortfall, we understand something about our essential nature. We should not rue this, but accept it.

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