Getting Volcanised

It has been an interesting week to sit back and observe how things we take for granted can, every now and then, give us a sharp nip on the backside and remind us exactly how feeble we can be in the face of forces greater than ourselves.

I was afforded more than enough time to reflect on all of this as I sat (slightly illegally) on the floor of a series of trains as they zipped across France & Belgium, moved at a more sedate pace through Germany before finally limping back home to Denmark. A total journey time of 22 hours – a trifle in terms of African travel times – but by European terms long enough to be considered an enormous (and rather wonderful) adventure.

That such a developed continent could be brought to a standstill by a minor eruption on a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic is surely as poetic a reminder of our frailties as you could wish for. All those high powered executives don’t seem so omnipotent sitting on their suitcases at Heathrow. Had the volcano cut their lines of communication, then all hell really would have broken loose. Suddenly all those apocalypse now films of the last few years don’t seem so far fetched.

We who have had the fortune to be born into a world with this ‘assumed efficiency’ often loose patience with the pace of change or the ability of a government or institutions to generate the desired response in the developing world. Yet a week like the one just past illustrates how much can come off the rails when just a single cog goes missing, and that in our own well manicured back yard.

The lesson to me is clear: We are only the productive efficient workers we pride ourselves to be in the developed world because we stand on the shoulders of tens of thousands of others who keep the roads tarred, the lights on and in this particular case the airways open.

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