The fury of helplessness and the loss of water supplies

When a completely unexpected disruption of plans occurs, there is often widespread reactions of fury and helplessness. News stories identify scapegoats in government, corporations, and through individual incompetence

As I write, I am half listening to the developing story from Northern Ireland where many people have had their water supplies disrupted [December 20th 2010]. The reporting talks of thousands of people who have had no access to water for nearly two weeks.

The incompetence of others

One TV interview revealed the fury of a woman about the incompetence of the authorities who should shift themselves and do something. Reporters speak of the failure of communications. They appear to suggest that people have been cut off from water for two weeks. More accurately, water supplies have been disrupted, and various short-term actions have been taken as the problems are being tackled. These include delivery points for bottled water and stand-by supplies.

Corporate and governmental actions could have been swifter. Some individuals within the authorities may have been particularly incompetent. It also seems to be the case that the story reinforces individual helplessness. The general public, as symbolically represented, can do little more than demand ‘they’ shift their idle bodies.

The real sufferers

I couldn’t help thinking that the most vulnerable are not well-represented by a healthy and well-dressed woman who had driven to a car park and failed to find a promised supply of bottled water. Some others, in geographical and social isolation will be preserving their energies on more serious survival strategies. The old, frail, and poor are accustomed to reacting to additional losses of the necessities for a tolerable life.

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