SEISER SAYS
Natural Disasters Are Natural
Our Awareness and Response Is Our Choice
By Lynn Seiser

 

 

Natural disasters are the headlines these days. Every time I turn on the news or read a newspaper, there is another story of the effects of natural disasters.

We express our deepest concern, compassion, and condolences for the victims of any natural disaster. Nothing will remind us more about our place in the environment as when everything we have worked for is wiped out due to a natural disaster. Nothing brings out the best, and worst in people, than being confronted with or responding to a natural disaster. Some will face it with fear, while others face it with courage. Some never face it knowingly, but are immediately overcome by it. The survivors and relief workers equally choose to face the after effects of a natural disaster with fear, courage, or denial. It is in our awareness and response to a natural disaster that we have a choice.

Sometimes I think that we have messed with the environment enough that eventually it will start messing back. That implies some kind of consciousness that is human enough to hold back, then plot, and execute revenge. These tend to be more human characteristics and tactics than those found in nature. Personification and project can be a very inaccurate and dangerous way to try to understand anything. Nature appears to work more on a direct cause and effect dynamic. There are simply certain logical, predictable, and inevitable outcomes or responses to certain actions. Nothing changes things faster than a natural disaster.

Many people believe that natural disasters are the results or consequences of something they have done. They believe if they do everything right, then nothing negative, let alone disastrous, will ever happen to them. They believe that anything they do not want in their life is judgment or punishment. It is a great leap of logic to connect the notes making any natural disaster a very personal statement. Perhaps this is done to escape helplessness and a lack of control.

We may feel completely overwhelmed if we have to accept that not everything was about us, or under our control, or that not everything was going to be the way we wanted it to be. It may be somewhat natural for us, as humans, to think and feel this way, but it is certainly unnatural for nature to behave this way. If we never did what we have done to the environment, would natural disasters still exist? Sure, as I said, they are natural.

Nature has its own rhyme and reason. Nature follows its own rhythm. The laws of nature are simply our way of developing a set of rules that makes us feel safer and superior to nature. Nature doesn’t have laws or rules. Nature just is. Nature involves sequentially related causes and effects without judgment of good or bad, positive or negative. Animals seem to know this. Animals can sense natural disasters and take preparatory action to prevent or minimize damage and disruption. After a disaster, they tend to go back to what they were doing. They appear to accept natural disasters within the context of nature as inevitable.

How do we stay more aware and accept natural rhythms and events? Nature has an ebb and flow that appears natural. If the environment does what we want it to, we call it a nice day. If it does not, we call it a bad day, bad weather, and at worse, a natural disaster. Perhaps we need to pay more attention to what we are doing that could affect nature.

Perhaps we need to be aware and prepared for nature to take its own course. In watching coverage of a recent natural disaster, I was impressed by the animals that moved away from the disaster area, the indigenous tribe that also moved to safety, and even a little girl who had studied this subject in school. Responding to awareness can lead to a lower loss of life. Be aware that nature is natural and, despite our power as human beings, will act in accordance to its own nature, not ours.

Thank for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.

Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally-respected psychotherapist and author with offices in Long Beach and Tustin.


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