On preparedness

by admin | 11.14.12 | Editorials

As of writing, on the evening of Nov. 7, within the last few hours there has been the second large Earthquake off of B.C.’s West Coast within the span of two weeks—this time with a magnitude of 6.3. The recent 7.7 quake up near Haida Gwaii was the largest earthquake in Canada since an 8.1 […]

As of writing, on the evening of Nov. 7, within the last few hours there has been the second large Earthquake off of B.C.’s West Coast within the span of two weeks—this time with a magnitude of 6.3.

The recent 7.7 quake up near Haida Gwaii was the largest earthquake in Canada since an 8.1 magnitude quake in the same region in 1949—and a wake-up call. Tsunami warning systems in coastal communities were tested and evacuation orders given to some low-lying areas at risk for a tsunami. A plan was in place and it was implemented, although with a few hitches.

It was a solid test run for when The Big One strikes (any day, week, or decade now) and the subject of earthquake preparedness comes around with reliable frequency—usually after major earthquake disasters in other parts of the world. B.C. routinely begins to have a dialogue about preparedness and it seems some incremental steps are taken towards readying ourselves for The Big One.

The timing may be uncertain but it is guaranteed to come and we’ve all been raised since elementary school to be prepared for the eventuality. The same happens with fire drills and stranger-danger talks and sex-ed classes filled with warnings about STDs. We’re prepared for a future of specific threats to health and well-being and given the tools to deal with those threats so that we’re, in theory, not overwhelmed when they present themselves.

Life is filled with inevitable surprises: travelling disasters, first kisses, sudden deaths, discovering hidden talents, shocking break-ups, and finding friends in unusual places. Suprise is both wonderful and terrifying but the consequences of some events that we see coming still take us by surprise when they inevitably do happen: take graduation. We all see it coming, years in advance, yet when it happens I’d wager that fear for the future falls with the weight of an elephant on most of our chests.

University students have come to that point in the semester when it’s time for a lot of us to think about the next step—what happens in the New Year, where do we go next fall—transfer schools? Change our focus of study? Keep pressing forward? Students graduating in Dec. or after the spring semester are contemplating their options in a tough job market, weighing the pros and cons of grad school, and are wondering, so now what do I do with my life? It’s a sticky question fraught with limiting possibilities, the terror of making the wrong choices, and watching our twenties whittle away.

Wouldn’t it be great if all this came with a preparedness manual? Imagine drills that ready us to step into adulthood so that we know exactly when to stop, drop, and roll, or when to duck and cover, or when to flee. Regular drills could be given to five year-olds and up: pretend you’re an adult, here is the decision you have to make, weigh your options and pick one. Review the pros and cons of the decisions that we reach—how could we do better?

Perhaps if all this had been practiced over the years, life wouldn’t be so scary. We’d have had enough practise at using logic and reasoning to make the “right” decisions so that the final stages of the fall semester—when there is a enough assignment- and exam-induced stress as it is—would be a little more focused.

Of course this assumes taking a defensive approach to life, which isn’t exactly the most conducive method for living fully—and scary can be kind of fun. Scary is full of potential happenings and potential happy continuings—after all, the happy ending is a myth, and “right” decisions are not necessarily good ones.

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