When I was at Linwood Avenue School in Christchurch we used to have earthquake drills. The alarm would go and 30 little kids and Mr Kean would dive under the desks. When you’re still in single digits it’s pretty real and looking back I can see now how informed we were then about the threat of an earthquake. The earthquake is a shock alright in many respects, but is it a surprise?
If Mr Kean were here today, he’d tell you that it was
always going to happen (with a beard, Mr Kean would fit the bill for looking like the old testament god, that when such an event occurred 3000 years ago, would have inspired a new biblical story!). Fortunately, we now know that it’s the Teutonic plates moving and we should take comfort that no-one or thing is playing games with us.
When a disaster strikes we look for someone to show the way. Knowing that this is simply the earth moving as it has for the last 4 billion years it’s been around, we recognise that the resources to deal with it are with us. And this is where our leaders can bring comfort to us all. Not by telling us that there is a reason for the quakes or that they will stop on a certain date. But by listening, being present and taking practical action to do the best for those impacted. Who in Christchurch hasn’t been impacted?
What I saw in the political leaders in Christchurch was a well grounded, mindful and compassionate response. Some comment that it’s cynical political grandstanding. I don’t agree. It’s showing exactly the leadership at the time we need it. Most of the time we don’t need political leaders to look after us, but when adversity strikes, a steady hand and helpful measures to help those impacted to cope is a good thing. The ground has sure moved, and I know personally how the folk in Christchurch are feeling, but our leaders have proven to be well grounded. You don’t always know leadership until adversity strikes. We’ve had a good look now.