Our View: Japan shakes our complacency

Among the most mesmerizing messages to come out of Japan this week is the importance of not taking things for granted.

One of the world’s most sophisticated nations, the Pacific Rim country has made an industry out of preparing for massive earthquakes.

Yet, despite the billions of dollars and years of prevention spent on preparing for catastrophe, the forces of nature proved overwhelming.

The lesson for us, of course, is to put even more effort into making sure we’re organized for when the big one hits here.

Undoubtedly, the loss of life and property damage in Japan would have been a magnitude more staggering if the country wasn’t at the forefront of earthquake readiness.

The relentless videos and photographs showing how easily infrastructure was overwhelmed can turn optimists into skeptics and make pessimists feel downright nihilistic. But at least more of us will be shaken from the idea that something like that can’t happen here.

As human beings, we naturally have trouble relating to events that we haven’t directly experienced. But history is very clear that major quakes happen here and they happen relatively often.

Geological evidence tells us one of the greatest earthquakes in human history was the Cascadia megathrust event in 1700, off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Such is life near a fault line — in our case the boundary of the Pacific and North American plates.

We enjoy a spectacular quality of life on Vancouver Island but we also need to do our part to mitigate a catastrophe that could very well happen in our lifetime.

By all means, be prepared. And don’t think twice about doing what you can to help ease the tragedy affecting so many lives overseas.

Sooner or later, we’ll be the ones with outreached arms hoping others can feel compassion for what we’re going through.

 

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