On disasters …

Unfortunately, life isn’t all about how much money you have.

When an earthquake hits, it matters not the size of your bank account.

Having nothing at all to do with personal finance, I thought I would tell you about a conversation that I had on Wednesday:

I met a couple who were travelling from – more like escaping from – Christchurch, New Zealand.

They had been living through the devastation there from last week’s earthquake, now horrifically overshadowed by the series of natural (and, man-contributed) disasters in Japan.

First, he told me that he lived the the horror of driving from work when the quake hit. His car was shaken badly, the suspension magnifying the effects of the quake, rather than my expectation that the shock-absorbers would diminish the effects.

He watched a 7-story building sway like a palm tree, then a rising cloud of ‘smoke’ which he soon realized was the total collapse of a much older building behind. He then was witness to a man being killed as a piece of concrete fell off a building and hit the car behind.

‘My man’ was lucky enough to escape unhurt.

But, he really brought home the magnitude of such a disaster, that extends far beyond the terrible news reports of deaths, with these two anecdotes:

1. He knew a young lady who was engaged to be married. She was caught in a building during the quake and escaped with her life but lost three limbs.

2. One family – lucky enough to escape any physical injury – is being torn apart by psychological injury as mother and son escape to Auckland, too scared to return to Christchurch which has suffered over 4,000 earthquakes in the past 6 months. Their husband/father remains in Christchurch where his business / livelihood has miraculously survived. Even the damage to their home is repairable, but their family life is not.

These two small stories bring home to me the devastating effects on lives and families far beyond those who have died in disasters such as that in Christchurch … or, in Japan, a disaster 10 to 100 times as far-reaching as that in New Zealand.

I have no advice, other than to live your life because, on a cosmic – or, even natural – scale, money just doesn’t seem that important, does it?

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3 thoughts on “On disasters …

  1. Tragic events like the recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan really do put things in perspective. Even on a smaller individual scale, all of us live with the potential for personal tragedy at any time – a car accident, a plane crash or a few mutated liver cells.

    All of which means that getting out there and living “your life’s purpose” as quickly as possible is the only way to live.

  2. Life is precious, the most so at the individual of each person.

    Collectively we number so many that statistics blur just how precious the life of the individual is. By that I mean there are 7 Billion people on the planet. With a collective mortality rate of 1% a year, it means 70 million people will die each year or 200,000 per day.

    That seems like a staggering number, one where the Japan earthquake disaster (10,000 people dead) or the attack of 9/11/01 (3500 people killed) number of fatalities are quite small by comparison.

    But when it comes to the life of each individual statistics don’t matter. So live your life, find / make your story, and hope you can make the most of your precious time here on Earth.


  3. Absolutely true: “live your life, find / make your story, and hope you can make the most of your precious time”.


    Ricocheting off Mike’s note about how the Japan Disaster (10k death toll) dwarfs the attack on 9/11 (3.5k death toll), we should also remember the earthquake that devastated Haiti, with a death toll in the _Hundreds of Thousands_ (and still rising fast). Worst, the money raised to help Haiti ($300M+) has mostly been kept in American banks while the Haitians continue to suffer atrocities and our attention drifts. http://www.undispatch.com/japan-earthquake-vs-2004-indian-ocean-tsunami-vs-haiti-earthquake

    Even worse than the figures from those disasters (and single attacks) is the Civilian death toll resulting from the Iraq War (over 100,000 CIVILIANS). That’s also in an order much higher than the Japan disaster. Compare the tragic deaths of 3,500 civilians in Japan to the tragic deaths of over 100,000 civilians in Iraq. Where should our humanitarian attention really be focused?

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