Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

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Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

Fallout: Forces of Nature, Social Change, Good

March 23, 2011

And, the sea rose up from its core to wash away decades of development, generations and whole families, communities, and farms. And, too, the people rose up as the sea to wash away decades of oppression, of hopelessness and despair, of powerlessness. This month in the year two-thousand and eleven, on the eleventh day of the third month, we saw evolution and revolution occur simultaneously, each involving massive loss of life, each changing whole communities and families forever, each unstoppable. The forces of nature push and the forces of  freedom pull to create a new, generative world.

This past month the world has witnessed cataclysmic changes that surpass the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet Union, that remind us of the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the failing of the levees in New Orleans.  Whole societies have been transformed either by will or by nature, creating a future both uncertain and undefined.

Here in the United States we remain glued to the media that bring vivid images of suffering and struggling, of injury and courage.  And, we are safely tucked into our lives that, in so many ways, are only dreams to so many living under oppression.  In Japan, where the whole society prided itself on its judicious preparedness to counter the threats of earthquakes and other natural disasters, the realities of the uncontrollable forces of the moving earth and rising waters is still difficult to comprehend.

Forces beyond our control confront each of us during our lifetime, be they illness, joblessness, social and economic unrest, or threats of denial of health care.   It seems to me that in the face of what is going on around us, the imbalance of health care access that has dominated the body politic and threatened our economic security pales to its solvability.  Yes, we can solve this… Yes, we have enough.  Yes, we have the skills, the knowledge, the resources, and the pressing need to take care of our own.

I cannot leave the issues that seem insurmountable in the face of the uncontrollable.  Do we need a natural disaster to wake us up?

I am moved by the demonstrations of selfless courage in Japan, of relentless and life-threatening determination in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya as I sit so safely at my computer writing this.  It is personally shameful to me to read the article earlier this week in the New York Times that was headlined, “I-Pad-2: Shortage due to Japan Tsunami.”   It was perceived as equally shameful to readers who were aghast at this implication that this was a real problem in the face of real problems!

In Bahrain and Libya, peoples fighting for their rights of self-determination caused political earthquakes that will forever change the politial and social terrain of their homelands.  In Japan, the strongest earthquake recorded caused a Tsunami that took the lives of untold thousands and redrew a coastline and a country.

An article coming from The Guardian in the UK, reported on the abandoned and suffering, often dying elderly trapped in hospitals, in their homes, in nursing homes following the Tsunami and days following. Without a doubt the pain of how a natural disaster forces a kind of triage is experienced by a whole family, whole community, and a whole culture.

What does this say about who we are?  What can we learn from how we respond to such traumas? Each time some cataclysmic event occurs, we are called upon to respond in our own sphere of influence to make some kind of sacrifice, whether it be in the form of donating financial support or time spent witnessing the event from afar.  The larger question, for myself, is what is there for me in this that if I was fully conscious to its implications, my own life, my own impact on those around me, my vision and determination in living a relevant life would become instantly more urgent.


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