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The Uses of Disaster

Almost exactly a year ago, in the midst of the last hurricane season, I asked "Do We Need A Disaster?," exploring the question of whether we as a human society require monstrous events to focus our attention on the need for change. Although I was -- and remain -- hopeful that change could happen without such painful triggers, history offers me little support for my hopes.

Author Rebecca Solnit explores this question further in the latest issue of Harper's magazine. In "The Uses of Disaster," written before the recent hurricane but with an after-Katrina postscript, Solnit looks at the psychology of human behavior after major disasters. Moreover, she looks at how disasters in history, around the world, have been catalysts for major cultural changes.

If we do need a disaster to change our thinking, how best can we make sure that the changes are for the better?

(Thanks, Daniel Haran)

Comments (1)

Tony Fisk:

aka the school of hard knocks.
(category 5 hurricanes being for the remedial class)


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