Contingencies – Introduction

ContingenciesPeople use knowledge and experience to cope with the problems of daily life, but unexpected events that require a different behavior can and do occur. The people who best handle a changed situation are adaptable and stubborn. They persevere regardless of obstacles. They do whatever they must to survive, to adjust, and to achieve better conditions. If necessary, they accept periods of humiliation, degradation, and brutal treatment. They press on despite stress, constant discomfort, frequent misery, and fear.

In disasters, some fatalities lose contact with reality and are paralyzed by fear. Most survivors instantly recognize the threat and react accordingly. The principle taught to airline flight attendants is first save yourself, and then help others. It is grim reality that some survivors fought their way past others who died. People have crossed oceans in small boats, walked a thousand miles, gone months with almost no food, and lived for years in a concentration camp because they would never give up. Others wasted away and died in a few weeks because they could not accept the changes.

Rarely is the person in charge at the time of a disaster the best leader for survivors. A compulsion to lead does not indicate good judgement. A good leader sets an example, helps others, and makes decisions that improve conditions. Nagging should benefit the person or the group, and humiliation should be a last resort to obtain cooperation or save lives.

Abandoning a group of people who are making a bad mistake could be viewed as socially reprehensible, but the choices might be live pariah or dead fool.