Saturday, January 15, 2005

Your Tsunami

Sunday, December 26, 2004, started like any other day for the residents of the southern Thailand. Suddenly, residents along the coast noticed that the waves were receding much farther than normal. So dramatic was the departure of the water that fish were left flapping on the sand. Being practical (and poor), most of the people who saw this phenomenon did the natural thing. They ran out onto the beach and began grabbing fish as fast as they could.

Alas! All too soon, the maxim proved itself true: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

With one small shift of the earth's tectonic plates, well over 225,000 people were sent into eternity.

How life can change in the space of an hour!

However, there was one tribe of fishermen along the Thai coast that survived. "Knowledge of the ocean and its currents passed down from generation to generation of a group of Thai fishermen known as the Mokkien sea gypsies saved an entire village from the Asian tsunami. By the time killer waves crashed over southern Thailand last Sunday the entire 181 population of their fishing village had fled to a temple in the mountains of South Surin Island. "The elders told us that if the water recedes fast it will reappear in the same quantity in which it disappeared," 65-year-old village chief Sarmao Kathalay told the paper. So while in some places along the southern coast, Thais headed to the beach when the sea drained out of beaches -- the first sign of the impending tsunami -- to pick up fish left flapping on the sand, the gypsies headed for the hills."

But here's something interesting. On an average day (one without any tsunamis), 150,000 people die. Think of that! When factored in to 2004's death statistics, this tsunami will account for less than 1/2% of them -- a statistically small amount.

Your chances of getting hit by a tsunami are slim. But your chances of dying someday are grim. 100%. In a way, the story of the Thai is an apt metaphor for life. We humans constantly face the choice between grabbing momentary pleasure and gain (the fish) and obeying the instructions of an older, wiser Person, God (Whom we often think to be out of date!).aid, "How does it profit a man to gain the whole world, if he loses his own soul?"

Be ready. Learn a lesson from the tsunami victims. Yours could be today.

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