At first, we were told that it will be a Category 4 hurricane. Specialists predicted that it will be worst than any storm in Bermuda’s recent history. It was seen as such a threat that Hurricane Igor was nicknamed “Igor The Terrible”. Residents took heed to the warnings. Seven years ago, Hurricane Fabian caused extensive damage to the island and also resulted in the death of four persons. Most of us braced ourselves and prepared for the worst. All major disaster response organizations on the island were fully prepared to be mobilized following the storm. In fact, we were to have the services of HMS Manchester, the Royal Navy destroyer, which steamed up from the Caribbean and was on stand-by close to the island to offer assistance post Igor. Residents, including myself, stocked up on non-perishable foods, batteries, flashlights, candles, water, and pet food. We also made sure our cars were filled with fuel. Just in case Igor took prices through the roof.
Then Hurricane Igor was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before it passed Bermuda. We were ready for “Igor The Terrible” – if only to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we will not be caught unawares. In the end, Igor caused very minimal damage. Interestingly, after the storm some residents seemed a little disappointed. Hurricane Igor was not as bad as predicted. They had prepared themselves so well only to have it count for nothing. Some felt that they should not have prepared so well or even not at all.
This experience suggests to me that there are two categories of people or ways of thinking as it relates to crises. The first category, I will call Prudents, is made up of individuals who prepare themselves well. In counseling, these are clients who come for pre-marital counseling, attend parenting classes while pregnant, or visit the school counselor in their junior year to discuss their career options. There are two possible outcomes for Prudents. They will either experience a crisis or they will not. Judging from experience, I am confident in the former. I do believe that everyone has either been through a crisis, is going through a crisis right now, or will go through a crisis (if they live long enough). Prudents hold that “prevention is better than cure,” and “fortune/chance favors the prepared mind”. For these individuals, if the storm comes they will recover quickly. Furthermore, whether the storm comes or not, they are more likely to have peace of mind.
The second category, I will call Laggards, is made up of individuals who do not prepare themselves for crises. You will hear Laggards say things like, “I never get sick so why do I need health insurance.” They will also say, “Over fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce anyway, what’s the sense in seeing a counselor now.” The same two outcomes for Prudents are also possible for Laggards – either they will experience a crisis or they will not. The difference is that when a crisis comes, Laggards will wish they were Prudents.
In Bermuda, Laggard residents said to Prudents, “I told you nothing was going to happen. You wasted your time and money preparing for a little breeze.” Of course, it is quite obvious that there will come a time when Prudents will be called upon to be of assistance to Laggards. While they ought to help, Laggards should be encouraged to embrace the ways of Prudents. This is where we can help.
As counselors, it is usually easy for us to discern individuals including clients who fit into each category. I believe it is our duty to help as many as we can be prepared for the storms of life. We should continue to conduct community seminars (even when only three persons registered); write articles, blogs, and books; create and submit newsletters providing information from our own areas of expertise; volunteer in organizations of interest and with opportunities for directly and indirectly improving lives; and practice what we preach/teach.
I have experienced three hurricanes and at least one major personal crisis in my twenty-seven years on earth. As a result, I have come to realize that what happens after the storm is profoundly impacted by what happened before the storm. In other words, while the storm itself is important and our response to it can affect lives, there is nothing more important than our preparation for the storm.
Pete Saunders is a graduate student at Capella University. He also writes a weekly blog and conducts a weekly video interview on manhood at razorsanddiapers.com