Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Panic Mode

It's pretty amazing how susceptible human beings are to panic when situations evolve that upset the normal expectations of our daily lives. We are so devoted to our expectations that life will continue upon a track that gives us comfort in its dependability that when nature strikes with routine-upending results we are completely thrown into mental disarray.

It's hardly surprising. We find comfort in the reliability of routine. When routine is disturbed and we are faced with events that threaten to steep us in despair and insecurity we react in instinctual survival mode. Unfortunately that reaction runs counter to survival, since panic is not conducive to usefully and rationally scrutinizing a situation to discover how it can logically be faced.

Which is why people around the world have become insensible to reason, to believing that the fall-out of radiation from the tense and fraught-with-danger situation in Japan with its crippled nuclear power plants are behaving irrationally. Coastline communities in various countries of the world off the far stretches of the Pacific Ocean are in no direct danger from radiation contamination.

They believe, however, in the potential of life-destroying contamination as some levels of exposure to radiation float in off the prevailing winds, despite the knowledgeable assurances of nuclear and environmental professionals in the field. Useless and sometimes harmful expedients are sought for protection against possible contamination. Red wine, iodine, salt, and various other believed ameliorating substances are in hot demand.

While residents of Japan who have real reason to fear the contaminating effects of radiation as Japan struggles against time and fortune to control nuclear disaster have good reason to fear and to flee. Commercial airliners still flying out of Haneda and Narita airports are full of expatriates and Japanese citizens striving to flee impending disaster. At the same time, Japanese who have been working or visiting outside Japan are determinedly returning.

Those who are wealthy and for whom cost is no problem, and who are unable to find scarce airline tickets on commercial carriers are opting for private chartered flights whose cost for a return flight between Hong Kong and Japan comes in at between $90,000 and $140,000. Fear and insecurity provoke panic reactions in people, and this is completely understandable.

What is far less logical is people who are so far removed geographically from the tragedy imagining themselves to be at high risk for a compromised health future at the imagined prospect of prevailing winds bringing high radiation contamination to where they live.

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