Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and Disaster Ethics

John Carney/President-CEO
Center for Practical Bioethics
October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy bears down on the Atlantic coast as millions or residents and civic leaders brace for damage to life and property.  Many decisions will be made in coming days, decisions that are ethical in nature but may not be stated as so.

·       An infringement on individual liberties: many Americans may find fault with the notion, regardless of societal goals of peace and order, but most of us agree that the “greater good” is a desirable goal when sufficient threat exists. One of those times is when the lives of a large number of our people are at risk based on a careful assessment by public officials.  One of those times is now.
·       The duty of the citizenry is to think bigger than oneself. The duty of public officials is to protect our collective interests. It is their purview to determine if this is an emergency, a disaster or a catastrophe. There are big differences between each of those, and they require escalating attention by the public and our commitment to perform our obligations as good citizen.
·       It is our not our job to assess or determine the scope or extent of the impending calamity. It is our job, at this time, to comply with the requests or demands, so that the greater good can be achieved.

We need not repeat the mistakes of Katrina. We need to cooperate and make sure that our participation in the civic good, benefits as much as possible, all those in harm’s way.

Video Links:

·       Disaster Ethics: From Emergency to Disaster to Catastrophe, Griffin Trotter, MD
·       Disaster Ethics: Caring for the marginalized: the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor, Tarris Rosell, PhD