Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why "Be Safe" are Not Just Words

Hurricane Sandy ravages Staten Island's North and West Shores

You are not supposed to mess with natural disasters, ignore evacuation orders, think that you know better, that media yet again is blowing it out of proportion. Hours before hurricane Sandy hit New York,  I was watching journalists interviewing people who decided to stay in their homes and ignore the government's plea to evacuate. Everyone was saying the same thing: we left last year during the hurricane Irene and nothing bad happened, so this year we are standing. I was immediately struck by the illogic of their thinking: how can you compare one hurricane to another? As if these natural monsters always strike the same way, damage the same property and injure the same people? And on top of that, people were making the comparison after they've been told a number of times that the coming storm is entirely different from the last year's one.
So why can't we learn a lesson unless we experience firsthand this danger, the deathly breath of the calamity we otherwise refuse to believe is possible. Do we really have to look the death in the face to practice caution? I remember coming to the nearby park a few days ago to sit in the quiet of the nature with my book, to enjoy some crisp autumn air. But as I went deeper into the park, I realized that I was the only person there. Such an eerie but almost exciting feeling of being all by myself in this magic kingdom of trees. But instantly I had the alarming thought that many crimes happen in secluded parks and should I get attacked, I could count on no help.  I was already there, hypnotized by the incessant rustle of the falling leaves, itching to get immersed in my book and forget the world. So I stayed. And only later I thought it through and realized how it was not worth the risk. Nothing bad happened this time, it's possible that nothing bad will ever happen but why mess with my luck?
When we get the warning the first time we listen and comply, by the second and third times we begin to lose vigilance. I heard that new drivers are less likely to have accidents the first year they are driving in spite of their far-from-perfect driving skills. But they are still afraid so they pay attention and practice safe driving. But as they get more confident they engage in some risky maneuvers that don't end so well.
Our problems begin when we lose fear and replace it with self-confidence. Maybe it's good for career growth or with personal aspirations, but when it comes to mother nature and basic safety precautions, you don't consider yourself invincible. You don't make silly jokes to stress your fearless nature but think back about all the past victims of a similar disaster. You ask yourself: what can I do to keep me and my family safe. And then you do it even if the whole world laughs in your face. Because we've all learned at some point the bitterness of "I told you so"  and it's better to waste your time but stay safe than keep your cool just to lose everything in the end.

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