The sad and scary story from Japan is another of the periodic brutal reminders of the fine line between civilization and a very different life. We like optimism and the view that the coming decade will always be better than its predecessor. Life, however, gives few guarantees.
Few of us make preparations for disasters beyond purchasing health and life insurance. When we hear of families who store back-up supplies of food, the tendency is to acknowledge the wisdom of the practice in the same casual way we might acknowledge the wisdom of daily exercise and fiber. The Japan story, of course, cuts both ways since in many cases such preparation would have been worthless. You can't plan for everything, we reason, so we'll plan for as little as possible.
In recent conversations, however, I've noticed a slight shift in tone. The mockery that almost immediately surfaced whenever survival preparations were mentioned is no longer there. People are not at the point of digging shelters, of course, but the idea of some extra precautions is not as wild as it once seemed. What do you do if, due to nature or man, the boundaries of everyday life dramatically shift?