Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Money talks

The yahoo coverage of the Tornado in Oklahoma includes the following passage:

"Meanwhile, it has emerged that the two schools which were hit had not been reinforced with tornado shelters, though hundreds in  Oklahoma had received extra protection.

"Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said it is up to each jurisdiction to set priorities for which schools get funding for safe rooms.
"But he said a shelter would not necessarily have saved more lives at Plaza Towers, especially against a tornado that was on the most powerful type, an EF5 twister, with winds of at least 200mph.

"When you talk about any kind of safety measures ... it's a mitigating measure, it's not an absolute," he said.  "There's not a guarantee that everyone will be totally safe."

It is clear that no one can guarantee that a safety measure will keep everyone totally safe.  But a school with a safe room is likely to be safer than a school without one.  It seems incredible to me that in the richest country in the world, children's lives are valued so cheaply.  People's lives.  That quotation is the sound of money talking.

There is something wrong in a world where school boards and emergency management weigh up the cost of those sort of protective measures and decides they aren't worth the cost.  There is money for all sorts of stuff in America, why not safe rooms for all schools in Tornado alley - particularly if climate change is going to mean more extreme weathere events for the future?

I was discussing Quaker philosophy with a friend the other day, and expressed surprise that so many people seem to have the impression that Quakers are saints or people who are inhumanly good.  The only thing required to be a Quaker is that 1) you should believe what you believe and 2) try to live by what you believe.  Does that seem so hard?

I think we get into trouble when people expound views and beliefs that are complicated by money and by politics and by their idea of what someone in their position should say or believe.  If instead they managed to make contact with their true inner selves and expound what they actually believe, I do think that the world would be a better place.  A much better place. 

The world could be such a wonderful place... instead of wars and oppression, freedom and health.  Instead of men making decisions about the cost of safety procedures, making decisions that reflect the fact that human life is precious, and worth celebrating, protecting, caring for.  I truly believe that most people agree with that sentiment.  If more public servants and elected representatives around the world reflected that, the world would indeed be a better place.

I know that measures may fail, things happen and no one can stop them.  But at least we should be able to say that we did all we can.  This isn't the case here.  I hope that changes and the schools in this area of the US get their safe rooms for the future.