“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
The multi-layered and ongoing crisis at Playa El Matal (Ecuador) often reminds me of character studies in literature. The ocean’s change in temperament dominoes in many directions and affects many classes of people in the community. I’ve witnessed arrogance, apathy and denial as well as compassion, integrity and diplomacy. The homeowners display amazing inner strength, though like battle-weary veterans, they are running on reserve energy and little sleep and are in need of some much-needed rest.
Each person has his or her own breaking point, and no one knows how much reserve strength is left as the ocean continues to build toward the highest tides at the end of this week. There have been unselfish gestures prompted by empathy and compassion, although there is an undercurrent of sadness and sorrow.
The following photos illustrate the seriousness of this week’s tides.
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” –Theodore Roosevelt –
It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer also seems appropriate for my friends’ challenges:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb –
It’s been almost two years since the first true crisis awakened this seaside village. Some of the astute ones began waving SOS flags and scrambled to find ways to protect the beach. Many others now understand the seriousness of the loss, but the high-dune buffer is now gone. There are few options; the municipality began providing large rocks on the 27th, although there has been no progress on funding for the geotube-beach nourishment option.
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other.”
― John Steinbeck
As with a substitute player going into an end-of-the game tie-breaker, he/she might not want to take the final shot and be forever criticised for a missed goal. There are many players on this complicated field, though it is not a game. People’s dreams are at stake, and they have been valiant in efforts to defend their investments while others pass the ball laterally or watch from the sidelines. At times, a surprise volunteer player steps onto the field and helps to restore a bit of faith in mankind.
I do not know what I would do if my home were facing the advancing ocean. Would I be able to mentally stand in the officials’ shoes as the clock ticks down to zero and find empathy for their stances? Would I have power over my words so that I didn’t speak out in anger or frustration? These are storms of Life that make one a stronger person, but reaching calm waters can be an exhausting challenge. My friends, I would not want to be in your shoes…