Life and Death #5 – Travel and Volcanoes

May 20, 2010

I find it fascinating to watch the innocence of Mother Nature confound the sophisticated schedules and towering technologies of man. The volcano in Iceland is the latest example of this.

When it was uncertain whether or not visiting dignitaries would be able to attend the Polish president’s funeral because of volcano dust and stalled air travel, I wondered which was more important…getting the dignitaries there or getting the man buried? Were the dignitaries really necessary? Or were they just there to make the dead man’s friends look good?

This whole travel-and-volcano situation started me thinking about what would happen if the so-called and long-predicted Earth changes became disruptive enough to leave people stranded right where they were. What if people couldn’t get back home again because there was too much destruction…or the few places still open to flight were so crammed you couldn’t get a seat…or those who supply parts that keep planes, trains, and boats going were unable to do so because their factory collapsed in the earthquakes that accompanied the volcano…or the cost of delivering those parts was driven up to unbearable levels and producers of mechanical things had to shut down.

What if you were a wounded soldier trying to get home…or a young mother who intended to be away for only a few days and suddenly found yourself stranded for months, or years? What if you were a company president attending a meeting, only to discover that you couldn’t get back and were stuck indefinitely right where you landed?

We never think about the risks we take in flying to another continent and stepping onto that distant shore, leaving an ocean between us and our loved ones as well as our everyday lives. So many things we do are based on assumptions and things we take for granted. The biggest assumption we make again and again is that we can always go back.