24 June 2011

A Brief Insight Into Human Nature from Minot, ND

Suffering and loss are widespread in the town of Minot, North Dakota, as flood waters continue to rise. How are the people of Minot dealing with this ongoing tragedy?
First of all, if you can’t tell from the pictures, this a tragedy of almost unthinkable proportions. The Souris River carves a winding path through an otherwise flat terrain. The river valley is relatively shallow, about 150′ lower than the prairie on either side, and maybe 2 to 3 miles wide. The river is also crooked, and makes a horseshoe shape. The town of Minot straddles the river, with roughly 1/4 of the town on the north hill, 1/4 of the town on the south hill, and 1/2 the town in some part of the valley.

...12,000 people have been displaced, and hundreds more are in a state of voluntary evacuation. Hundreds, if not thousands, of houses will be destroyed...People have made their best efforts to move their belongings and prized possessions to higher ground, but everyday seems to bring worse news. 3 days in a row the predicted crest level has been higher than the previous day. Friends that two days ago thought they were safe found out yesterday that they were not. By the time this thing is over, perhaps a third of the town’s homes and businesses will be destroyed, along with the vital infrastructure that links the north hill and south hill neighborhoods.

...I am not from this part of the country (I hail from the East Coast) and nowhere that I have lived has ever faced this kind of adversity. But I would be proud to call this town my home. I have not seen one person whine or complain. I have not heard one hopeless person ask when the government or FEMA would rescue them. The town mobilized itself days ahead of the impending disaster and began planning for the worst; secondary levees and sandbag walls went up with breathtaking speed, and thousands of homes were evacuated without incident. Think of it as the anti-Katrina. Once the townspeople saw that their worst fears were about to be realized, and their homes and livelihoods destroyed, instead of giving up, they have only redoubled their efforts to save what can be saved. Their stoic determination in the face of absolute catastrophe amazes me. _Instapundit

"Stoic determination in the face of absolute catasrophe...." A society made up of competent individuals determined to work their way through to the other side of catastrophe largely on their own sweat, will, and competence -- that is a somewhat resilient society or community. It can make the hard decisions and sacrifices it needs to make in order to survive as a unit group.

Politicians and other public servants often call on citizens to display such fortitude and sacrifice -- at the same time as they, the politicians and bureaucrats, fly around the world playing golf, drinking cocktails with peers, attending fundraisers, twittering their photographs, and dispensing public resources to private supporters and hangers-on so as to maintain their hold on power. Societies which depend on politicians and public servants for their survival, will fall.

Inner grit -- the type of resilience and determination displayed by the people of Minot -- cannot be conjured out of thin air by some political messiah, wordsmith, or witch doctor. Such determined and competent perseverance combines both lifelong immersion in a certain mindset along with constant training and responsibility in mundane day to day needs of living. And although it is far from politically correct to say this, breeding also comes into play in human resiliency or the lack of it.

Floods and other natural disasters are inevitable, as is a growing societal dissonance due to debt and demographic decline. And yet most modern governments persist in forcing citizens to grow more dependent upon government, and less resilient or competent in meeting their own needs and exigencies.

The lesson, for those who want to see it through, is to build networks of competence in your neighborhood, community, and region. Instill competence and resilience in your children and yourselves. Problems and catastrophes are inevitable. They do not have to turn into large scale doom unless you allow it.

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