An act of nature with human intervention!

Post date: Jun 27, 2013 4:15:32 PM

Manish asked me to comment on Uttarakhand calamity.

First of all - why didn’t I comment?

Honestly, I think it was due to what psychologists say –too much information makes us do nothing. If you want people to do nothing - provide too many options. I saw hundreds of articles, posts, and information flowing around. I thought, do I have anything new to say? Can I make any difference? Will saying something help? Although we would never answer “no” to these questions… but that’s how our mind makes a decision! And I ended up saying nothing. It is the same reason why we don’t act after such incidents… we have so many things to improve that we end up doing nothing!

I still remember how angry and sad I was at the time of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. I didn’t sleep for 2-3 nights and kept watching TV all the time. I wrote this post -

In the end, I had the hope that we will learn and do something, but nothing happened. It is still so easy to plant a bomb “anywhere” in India! To compare, Not even a single major incident happened in US after 9/11. But in India - almost nothing changed.

After blasts in Delhi (I don’t even remember which one... its so common!) this is what I wrote - that everyone is busy and happy after blasts. Everyone got something out of it. -

Sad part - I felt similar after this incident… Everyone (almost) is making an issue for their own benefit... !

Scientists/leaders – their observation and comments are not concrete! At least, I don’t find it. I remember after the Tsunami… most of the people didn’t even had a clue what Tsunami is! Newspapers Googled and copied articles from US university websites, explaining what Tsunami means!… with that kind of information, what can we do? When there is a disaster – we don’t even know what to do or how to handle it? Disasters are inevitable... but after every incident... some blame game and we go back to our normal lives. All of us know that we need to improve in every single area… but this kind of vague statement means – no one will do anything! That’s how it works! We do nothing unless we get a clear picture of what can “I“ do!

As an individual, what can we do? I don’t need to comment… all of us know! I didn’t write anything because I also don’t do anything. We just blame others… we look for a leader who can make a difference… and nothing happens. I have a dear friend from Uttarakhand… she told me almost a year back that her village is like heaven on earth.. . She was worried about unplanned massive developments and construction. She said – one day they will destroy everything. I don’t know exact reason for this calamity. It can all just be nature’s act and nothing to do with human interventions to nature! but… everyone knows that there should be a plan for development and infrastructure. And even if it was nature’s act, we should be able to handle the aftermath in a better way. Forget about a better way… we don’t even know what to do. With every disaster, we can either learn or feel frustrated and create another hopeless dark spot in our hearts… unfortunately, we end up with later.

I remember when I was working in Patna. Someone told me, “this road is being built the third time… they built it, and they had to dig again for water lanes and then another time for cables!” That’s how much we think before building an infrastructure… and we don’t question; we don’t care to ask or even suggest!

Question remains… What can we do? Most of us work only in case of an “identifiable victim” (a well-known concept in psychology) and not in generic instances and things that are going to affect us in the long term. That is… we don’t act if we don’t see an apparent unique victim like someone we know or for that matter, any single person getting affected. Same way if we don’t know that we can be effected in the near future - we don’t act. For example, things like global warming - why we will be worried?! Our brain feels doing more for a person getting affected today and in front of us rather than doing something for whole humanity and something which “may or may not” affect humanity in next 50 years. That’s how human brain is designed to think… same way if we don’t see a victim but a vast set of people getting affected… we simply don’t act. In reality, we can’t make much of a difference for such things (sorry for being so negative. it can be my mood but this is less idealistic and more realistic!) but… given that we can do things being selfish… selfish for ourselves and people we know; for places where we live, few plants that can pay us back in a few years. I know it all sounds selfish, but believe me, selfishness at times helps in a better way because at least we do something! And if everyone acts in that direction, it will help. It will improve everything… be selfish… don’t worry about the whole world…. Worry about a small circle around you… do something for it… this is something we can, and this is something that can make a difference. Sadly, we don’t even do that!

This is just one side of a multifaceted problem!