Quality eLine Newsletter
January 2005
Vol. 7, No. 01

Six Sigma and More: 
David Schwinn sees lesson in disaster.

by David R. Schwinn

“Tsunami toll to exceed 150,000:” One of many headlines describing one of the worst disasters humans have ever known. Nearly 150,000 have been confirmed dead in the area, and according to Jan Egeland, UN Humanitarian Chief, the world will never know how many people were washed to sea and will never be found.

Add to that the untold numbers of people who are suffering hunger, disease, and loss as a result of this catastrophe. One thousand children are reportedly dying in a remote Indian state because aid cannot reach them. One man who survived has described holding onto his small child with all his strength only to have the child finally ripped from his arms and lost. A mother helplessly watched as her five year old boy screamed for help and was swept underwater. Rosita Wan told reporters, “I never saw him again.” Another local fisherman recounted the loss of his boat, his home, and all his earthly possessions.

Beyond these, there are innumerable people who, though not directly affected, have lost relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and partners. Some have been lost permanently through death. Some are missing. Others have been so unalterably damaged that the nature of those relationships will never be the same.

What can we do? Well, of course, we can help. Many of us already are doing that. Second, we can learn. People are already asking what we can do to prevent such a disaster from occurring again. Many spiritual practices consider troubled times as times for reflection…times that life is encouraging our spiritual growth in particularly dramatic ways. Third, we can be thankful. How many times do we feel that life is giving us a tough road until a disaster like this reminds us of how lucky we are in so many ways? Finally, we can dream…yes, dream. Those thousands upon thousands of people whose lives were lost or disrupted had dreams or hopes that were destroyed or, at least, badly damaged. That does not mean that we should not continue to create visions for a better future.

Goethe, the German philosopher, said, “What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” W. H. Murray, in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951, expands on Goethe’s idea with “…that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meeting and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

We cannot possibly understand the trauma the tsunami victims are feeling. But we can help them each in our own way. And we can continue to dream for a better world as we watch for providence to come to our assistance.

May peace be with us.

As always, I welcome and appreciate your input. I’m at support@pqsystems.com


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