Choice and Disasters

Is that a funny title – what can choice and disaster have in common? Well, what’s happening in Japan right now has really gotten me thinking about things, so I thought I would share.

I often say that we are ALWAYS at choice – and I firmly believe we are. However, it’s not that we necessarily have a choice about what happens to us, but rather we are always in choice about how we are in relationship with what happens to us.

Looking at what is happening in Japan now is really hard. My heart goes out to all involved – those who were there when it happened, those trying to help deal with the aftermath, those trying to reach friends and relatives there, and all who are trying to come to grips with the horror of it all. The people of Japan, like people everywhere, are at choice; but it was not their choice to have the earthquake happen, the tsunami happen, and the nuclear power plants to fail. The people of Japan, and in fact the entire world, are in choice only as to how they react to what is happening.

And I have to say that I do so admire the way the Japanese, and in fact the world, are choosing to respond to this disaster. With all the horror of entire towns and tens of thousands of people being missing, and the reality of nuclear meltdowns being realistic possibilities, and rolling blackouts to conserve electricity, and everything else that is going on there, people seem to be trying to take it in stride, and despite the tremendous amount of pain and uncertainty I have heard stories of people being kind to each other and sharing what little resources they have with others. Search and rescue squads from all corners of the globe are on their way to help, and people all over are contributing money to help with disaster relief. And I have NOT heard stories of looting.

We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we are always get to choose how we respond to what has happened.

So, of course, living in Seattle makes all of what is happening in Japan a little too close for comfort. The state of Washington is at risk for the same things Japan is going through, with the difference that we don’t have the nuclear power issues so much. But we do have plenty of fault lines ready to slip at any time, we have the possibility of tsunamis wiping out our coast, and even of a tsunami in Puget Sound, if the Seattle Fault goes.

Since we are told that it is a matter of when, not if, we are hit with the next ‘big one’, how do we deal with this knowledge?
I know some people may move away, thinking that there must be a better place to live (it’s an option – though I don’t know where you would go – hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, floods – there are disasters everywhere!) My personal preference is to remember that I am always at choice. No, I don’t get to decide when the earthquake comes, how big it is, where my loved ones and I are when it hits, or anything like that. But I do get to choose how prepared I am for it. While I know that there are some disasters for which no amount of preparation is enough, I also believe that being prepared will help a lot in some disasters, and certainly won’t hurt even if it doesn’t help.

So I choose to get my emergency kit together and stored somewhere that I can get at it if needed. And I choose to be sure that my family and I are all on the same page when it comes to trying to reach each other in an emergency – we all have our cell phones; we have an out-of-state number to call in case we can’t get hold of each other but can word out that way; and out-of-state family know that in case of communication issues we will be trying social media and Skype and email and whatever else we can think of to contact people.

We choose to have a plan. That plan may or may not work, but it is our choice to have one. How about you? How will you be in choice if and when a disaster strikes?

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