Another dot in the blogosphere?

Responding to a #sabahquake troll

Posted on: June 10, 2015

I did not think I would be writing a third reflection in as many days on the Sabah earthquake [first reflection] [second reflection]. But I need to respond to a troll in the only way I know how: With reason and in a longer form than a tweet.

This was the someone’s response to my first reflection:

My answer to the rhetorical question is no. I was more than twice the age of the children who climbed Kinabalu but never got down on their own.

However, that does not strengthen the commenter’s argument that I was able to take responsibility for myself unlike a 12-year-old child. Neither do adults like the school principal and trip organizers have to fall on a sword for allowing such an expedition if they have done all they can in preparation and risk mitigation.

When not actually at the mountain, you can mostly build up physical endurance and perhaps work on some team building. You might be able to simulate scenarios for likely events, but you cannot prepare for every eventuality.

When you are on the mountain, the challenges become real. The physical challenges become mental and social. One of the best ways for anyone to learn responsibility is to take care of themselves and others around them. Any well-adjusted adult relearns to do this and is in a constant state of worry for the kids.

Being responsible for oneself and others becomes real for kids too. They have to learn how to walk responsibly, talk responsibly, eat and drink responsibly, and even relieve themselves responsibly. They learn to recognize whether body and/or mind are tiring whether it is their own or in others.

With how careful schools, parents, and organizers are nowadays, these aspects and more were probably part of a preparation regime that students experienced as part of character and leadership development. I would bet that the children were prepared for the climb better than I was for mine as an adult two decades ago.

The biggest issue school authorities, teachers, and trip organizers had to deal with was risk. They would have surely mitigated such risks with protocols like RAMS (risk assessment management system, one example) and a host of other operating procedures. If reflective in their work, they would have learnt from previous expeditions in rise-aboves and debriefings.

Had adults taken the necessary responsibility? I say yes. But can they account for, anticipate, and control everything? Undoubtedly no, like everything else in life.

The risks were low because the region was not known for seismic activity of the scale of last week, the conditioning programmes, and prior experience.

As much as the troll tries to point out that the issue is one of taking responsibility, she means to lay blame on someone like the school principal. If there were risks that adults could remove but chose not to, then there is rightly room for blame. But this is not a transparent issue, so we cannot judge.

If as much preparation and risk mitigation was done as possible, then I repeat the simple wisdom offered by SGAG*: If you’ve nothing better to say, don’t say.

Now is not the time to blame. It is to grieve. It is to support those who have lost loved ones. It might even be to battle trolls who are not helping matters.

In the aftermath, some people here will invariably seek to blame. As I have reflected before, this action stems from a place of ignorance and fear. When this happens, we might heed the warning of Yoda*: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Video source

Have we not suffered enough? I say we stop the vicious cycle by not laying blame, baying for blood, or retreating further into our shells.

Instead, I say we have reasoned dialogue for the sake of all our kids. Let us live, love, and pass it on.

*Granted these are not the most scholarly or philosophically deep sources. One is a satirical site, the other is a fictional character. But if I can rely on such simple truths or wisdoms, then the stones that the trolls throw feel like marshmallows.

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