When others don’t plan, it becomes our problem

Dianne St. Jean

The twelve boys and their coach who are trapped in underground caves in Thailand are obviously dominating the headlines these days.

Missing since June 23, it was good to hear that they had been all discovered alive and as well as could be. Now we are finding out that it may actually take not days, not weeks, but even months to get all of them out.

It’s almost inconceivable when you look at a map or illustrations of just where they ended up - almost 1,000 metres beneath the surface and 5 kilometres inward.

And while we’re all cheering for them, I’m sure the question remains in most of us – how on earth did they end up there in the first place?

I realize that anything can happen in life, and that includes losing our way and getting lost.

Perhaps this is not the time to be critical, but I can’t help thinking of what was going through that coach’s head in taking the boys down so deep into those caverns, especially during one of the most hazardous times of the year.

Well, they say that wisdom is 20/20 hindsight, which means that we tend more to learn from looking back at experiences than looking ahead.

In part this is true, but there are also plenty of other good sayings out there that tell us it is wise to plan ahead, and to learn from the experiences of others.

The sad and even stupid thing about events like these is that they are so preventable. Usually all that it takes to avoid things like this from happening is some foresight or planning ahead, and while we can’t predict everything that can happen, we can be prepared, at least in part, for some things.

Alas, this is where the foolishness of humanity comes out.

While we can’t plan for the unforeseeable, there are plenty of things we can prepare for, yet we don’t – like old age, or how we’ll support ourselves after retirement. Then there’s the most obvious – death. We’re all eventually going to die, yet it’s remarkable how many people, even as they get older, make no plans toward that time.

A good friend tells me of a story of a guy that brings his vehicle in for a tune-up and minor repairs that needed to be done before going on holidays.

“I can do it in about two weeks,” says the mechanic.

“Two weeks!” the owner of the car yells, “I have to leave in a day or two!”

“Then you should’ve booked in sooner,” the shop owner says. “The lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

That’s an awesome point to make – just because others around us don’t prepare doesn’t mean we should be expected to pick up their slack.

Unfortunately, though, it’s just not true in many cases.

I look around and see it everywhere. Aging people who didn’t make plans for their health or welfare, or who are too stubborn to let go of things and leave the burden of sorting through all their ‘unused-for-years-but-I-can’t-let-go-of-it’ stuff for others to deal with. Firefighters and rescuers who are forced to go out and even put their own lives at risk because of an accident or wildfire that could have been prevented. And, yes, even 12 young boys stuck in the bowels of the earth during Monsoon season because their leader lacked foresight and common sense.

So, while a lack of planning on our part should not impose an emergency on someone else, in the real world unfortunately, it often does.