Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tsunamis and Laura Ingalls

Right now it is raining outside my window.  This isn't anything new around here.  It has been raining with hardly any breaks for weeks now.  Parts of the country are getting hammered with snow and ice.  Last week a very large tornado hammered through my college town of Hattiesburg (A.K.A. Johannesburg, according to the Weather Channel).  All manner of posts and commentary about the weather is 'flooding' social media sites lately.

Stories about extreme weather often make me think of a radio interview I heard about the continuing devastation following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan a couple of years ago.  One particular part of that story has stayed with me since then.  One of the men interviewed was explaining that he just missed being carried away by the flood waters because his elderly mother insisted on being taken to higher ground immediately following the massive earthquake.  There was only about five minutes from the time of the earthquake until the tsunami struck, but it was just enough to get them both to safety.

He went on to say that his mother had been telling his family for years about what could happen in such an event.  Japan has earthquakes all the time, and people are more or less immune to them because they are so commonplace.  There hasn't been a similar event comparable to this one for over a hundred years.  His mother had never seen it, but she grew up hearing stories of a similar tsunami from her own grandmother.  This grandmother was saved once only because she was so high up when a tsunami struck when she was young.  For a couple of generations after that, almost everyone would immediately go for higher ground if they felt a quake of perceived intensity.  Over time, though, it became inconvenient and somewhat silly to think this way, but this woman kept telling the stories to her family.  She believed them, even though it was 'ancient history' by then, and it saved her and her son's lives when that devastating tsunami came through her village last year..

It got me to thinking:  what are the stories that I need to know, or remember, or keep telling again and again to my children?  In a world where technology and a 'bigger and better' ideology reign supreme, what old school ideas should remain front and center, even if they are met with eye rolls?  In a church where praise choruses are the songs du jour, maybe I need to teach some hymns.  In a pop culture that idealizes youth and indulgence, maybe we need to spend a little more time watching 'Little House on the Prairie' and remembering some real life lessons about poverty, family, community, and bullies with pretty stuff.

I always did like that little Laura Ingalls, anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment