a case of belief, or complacency overriding the obvious?
i think there is a tendency to think that we have evolved beyond the problems of the past. we have an intellectual acceptance of the fact that things can go bad, but we don't have gut concept of what that means.
i have had the good fortune to travel and see how others live. i have been in Mexico and seen abject poverty in what should be a wealthy country. in Italy, not a 3rd world country, and seen crime, unemployment at 25%, and poverty. my husband has crawled around Africa and seen the same. but that's over there. it's not here. it can't happen here.
right after Katrina i drove into NO. it was like something out of a B scifi movie. dark, empty, papers blowing down the road, and one or two dogs. it was shocking. shocking to have a family drive up in their car and ask if we had any food because they couldn't find any and had been living in the car. shocking to see people sitting on the ground crying with no idea what they should do next. shocking to see that blank stare in the eyes of little kids who had lost everything and had no idea what was happening to them. no stores open. no hotels, no fuel. no safe water to drink. no power.
that was one small area and it sucked up all the resources of a number of agencies. now, you can argue the reasons for some of what happened before and after...but imagine that kind of disaster over several states, over a region, or over a country...maybe not even ours. Hurricane Sandy was much the same as far as what it has taken to care for the area.
what happens when we can't meet the needs of the people. what happens if the disaster is so big or lasts so long that people are left to fend for themselves. what if the power goes out or the fuel is gone? what happens if the health care system is overwhelmed by some outbreak? what if the food is gone?
after ww1 they thought there couldn't be another great war. in the 20th century, they didn't think millions could be killed by disease, as had happened in the past. how many things do we think can't happen because we have learned better?