Too big to fail? The importance of being human
In an ice storm, precipitation falls as rain but turns to ice upon impact. Ice builds to several inches thick on roads, cars, trees—and Christmas decorations.
The result is startlingly beautiful and startlingly dangerous. Sunlight is refracted through frozen lenses. It is the only light we have. Trees collapse onto power lines and, as of yesterday, 450,000 of the 6 million inhabitants of Greater Toronto were without electricity.
Already there have been calls to senior management in the Hydro authority to resign. The storm was forecasted accurately but the extent of the damage it delivered was not—but should have been—according to many of those interviewed in the affected areas.
But these interviewees fail to recognise that predicting the outcome of complex systems is impossible. Plan pragmatically by all means, but no planning process will be robust enough to predict and then accommodate every scenario.
In such circumstances, it is resilience which must be displayed. Resilience gives us the ability to survive the unforeseen and, ideally, to bounce back quickly, and in a better position.
Resilience requires human interaction and human networks. The camera crews spend less time in Churches and Social Halls because positive stories attract fewer viewers. But when they do visit, they record happier faces recounting stories of re-established comradeships and the birth of new friendships.
We are clannish. It helps the species survive, and the individual build their self-worth. We turn away from this at our personal peril.
We face the possibility of unpredicted ice-storms on a daily basis in our business lives, and we constantly put faith in our ability to robustly deal with the impact when it occurs.
Don't fool yourself.
During this Christmas period, rekindle friendships, engage with others. Help someone.
Yesterday evening, there were 80 people alone in an apartment building. Each one cold and fearful. Two hours later the majority were standing around a huge bonfire organised by a local Church group. Tonight in the same dark, cold building, the tenants are playing age-banded games of scrabble, with BBq'd food being carried by young volunteers throughout.
Build your resilience. Be human.