Friday, April 1, 2011

I won't hear you!

It seems always to be the case that when there is some sort of major disaster--especially one where human hands have been involved--we begin to hear reports of "Well, we should have taken better care of . . ." We've heard a lot of this regarding the nuclear reactors in Japan that have been damaged as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. Sure, there were back-up diesel generators for the reactors . . . but they were at the same elevation as the reactors, so the tsunami knocked them out as well. "They (the designers) should've known and placed them higher!" we hear.

Well, I wonder. As well as the Japanese have planned for earthquakes and tsunamis (and they HAVE planned well), I find it hard to believe that no-one pointed out this potential flaw. What I don't find hard to believe, however, is that someone DID point it out, but that someone else buried the memo because (1) it cost too much; (2) it might shed a bad light on someone else; (3) it might put the construction behind schedule. In other words, the "bad news" at the beginning is news that folks didn't want to hear.

I'm currently in Houston at my sister's house. In talking about the events in Japan, my sister observed that her husband had pointed out many years ago that some of our nuclear waste sites were inadequately protected against certain risks. He was told by the energy company involved that those memos had better never see the light of day. Too much money; too much work. Let's just hope the risks never become reality. So we hope that the "bad stuff" never happens to us . . . We don't want to hear about it. We make alternative noise to drown out the nay-sayers.

It's relatively easy to point this out about others, especially those that seem to have political or financial interests in hiding the truth. And by focusing the noise in that direction, we are often able to keep the truth-tellers at bay with regard to our own problems or short-comings. I'm perfectly capable of ignoring things I don't want to know. I can busy myself in supposedly essential tasks so that I don't have to deal with those "nattering nabobs of negativism" that might suggest I make some changes.

Human nature, I suppose. And perhaps that's a reason why many of the major philosophical and religious traditions of the world stress "waking up" to what's really at play in our lives. Buddhism, for example, is all about enlightenment--recognition and acceptance of the true nature of things. Socrates pointed out that "the unexamined life is not worth living." The Gospel of John says that Jesus came as the light of the world, but that folks prefer darkness. I clearly need that reminder that there's more than my own self-limited vision; wisdom points me that way.

Time to take off the blinders, open the sealed records, wake up, make some changes, and be prepared better for whatever the future might bring.



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