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Natural disaster evokes a sequence of responses from those not directly affected:-

  • a gradual dawning of awareness – flooding in northern Queensland had already claimed 11 lives before most of us awoke to its severity. Granted it was Monday’s shock deluge that snapped many of us to attention.
  • stunned shock as we attempt to come to grips with the impact of what has occurred. We are glued to TV screens and incoming radio and internet reports with a mix of “morbid fascination” and trying to understand.
  • “trying to understand” moves us into theorising about “how this compares” or “how it could have been prevented” or “what should be done now.” It is similar to the “bargaining” process of coming to terms with significant loss. Many of us are arrested at this point – it keeps us in safe and familiar “head space.”
  • We begin to come to terms with accepting the reality of the event on its own terms. We pay careful and respectful attention to the individual stories that begin to emerge – stories that immerse us in suffering and inspiration. Stories that diminish us as we realise what is lost but, simultaneously, enhance us as we are reminded of the resilience and heroism of the human spirit.
  • We respond in ways that express our solidarity as community. It may have already begun by donating to relief appeals. This level of response runs a bit deeper, however. It stems from our more reflective side. We know that no-one is an island – that realisation that “who I am” cannot really be answered away from the context of “who we are.” To address this question more deeply is to orient ourselves to the rest of our lives.

We seem to be at the stage nationally where we are seeking to understand the enormity of the flood event from individual perspectives. Here are some of the stories being shared:  Australia floods: Kindness of strangers – and brothers – as flood hits peak | World news | The Guardian.