Do disasters really bring out the best in people?
In her book ‘A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster’ Rebecca Solnit puts forward the notion that in the worse of situations, modern societies have shown the ability to display remarkable altruistic and selfless behavior that allowed them to overcome any obstacles. Although there may be some truth in the argument brought forward by pessimist that disasters at times do show the worse side of humans- selfishness and greed, it is merely over exaggerated based on the fact that the good outweighs the bad by many folds. Disasters do indeed bring out the best in people and this essay will explain why. Firstly, disasters do really bring out the best in people based on the argument that it forms a social grid that finds strength in unity to rebuild a society. This collective effort is commonly seen in the aftermath of any disaster, be it manmade or natural- where survivors come together to save what is left of their former society. The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster is a clear exemplar for all to see. Survivors stayed calm and tried to salvage what was left of their torn district. While the world waited to see how Japan reacted to the problem, nothing but awe was felt when Fukushima 50 arose. A 180 strong group of veteran retired engineers who felt that they should be the ones to solve the nuclear crisis- not fearing of the high levels of radiation but because of their love for what the society has given them. Similarly the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and the fire showed the world the best of the Americans. Housewives formed tents for orphans and opened up their stores for the hungry. Plumbers worked at solving the ruptured pipe system pipe by pipe while firefighters worked tirelessly to put out the fire. These surely are the peaks of humanity where altruism is simply not enough to explain the acts. Hence it is indeed true that disasters bring out the best in people....
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