Self exposed when the lights go out

tonychung.ca went down for most of the afternoon on July 14. If you tried to visit my site, or received a message that an email you sent to my address bounced, I sincerely apologize. Since WordPress 2.6 wasn’t announced until July 15, I can’t even blame the upgrade for the downtime.

The data center that hosts my website in downtown Vancouver had to be rebooted. This was due to a huge power outage that left a number of residents stranded without power. The news reports say that residents and businesses may be in the dark even until Wednesday. That’s just terrible.

While I experienced only the mild inconvenience of losing my internet presence, it occurred to me that others were caught without power and heat (or air conditioning and fans, as is the case this week). While I was happy to have more time to entertain a friend visiting from out of town, as many as 4500 people were unable to cook dinner, and hunting frantically for options to prevent their food from going bad inside their refrigerators and freezers.

Two days is a long time for 1500 people to be left without power. This makes me realize how fragile a society we’ve become. Over twenty years ago I drafted the plot for a story about a society that had become so technologically advanced that their very existence depended on their tools. Just like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Captain PIcard commanded the replicator to make his “Earl Grey, hot”, this advanced society lost touch with basic survival skills. Then the power went out. The rest of the story showed the society disintegrating into chaos, madness, and destruction.

I’d like to think our society is far more advanced than this, but I know that our human pride and selfishness would cause us to act insanely against what we know to be true. Compassion, mercy, and service are desirable, but highly unnatural, traits. We don’t have to teach children how to be greedy and possessive; we need to train them to share.

Last week at Cowichan River Bible Camp, Mike Poulin treated us to non-religious discussion on how Christians need to lead with character. Focus on what God sees as important, because our human nature will drive us to make decisions that will bring us down. God’s values, by contrast, are destined to win.

Human vs. (ideal) Christian natures

Human Nature Christian Nature
Selfish Love others more than self
Self preserving Self sacrificing
Self righteous Forgiving
Self centered Outward focused
Accusing Trusting
Selective Inclusive
Worrisome Confident
Argumentative Responsive

This list is far from complete, but it’s the best I could think of at 2:15 AM. Of course, we know that not all non-believers act like column A, and not all believers act like column B. For me, I’m willing to give it the old college try, and where I fall flat I know God’s grace will meet me where I need the faith to make it happen.

How do you think society would respond if the power went out permanently? Are you prepared?

 

  • Anne Gentle

    Interesting post, Tony – I am reminded of a TV show called Locked up abroad on NatGeo (http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/locked-up-abroad). One episode told the story of American missionaries, a married couple, who were kidnapped and held hostage in the jungle for over a year, during which time the events of September 11 occurred, much to the American’s shock and their kidnapper’s delight. An extremely emotional and moving show.

    At one point in the show, the husband was quoted that he saw more greed and hatred in the months of their exile than he had ever seen before – not in his captors, but in himself. Your table about human nature in opposition to Christian nature reminded me of his self-observation… it was an amazing revelation to have in a television show. Great blog post.