WHEN THE TSUNAMI HITS THE SHORE
An ocean wave is often formed many thousands of miles from its eventual destination. The main factor that drives the wave forward and allows it to build into a considerable swell is the constancy and force of the prevailing wind. Areas which are exposed to a fetch, the distance over which the wind blows consistently, of 1,600km have the largest waves; thus the best surfing beaches are in Hawaii, California and Australia.
However surfing takes place along the edge of the ocean where the waves build and gather to destroy both themselves and coastal areas they target. The energy which has built up over all those hundreds of kilometres is suddenly released, with massive, often destructive, impact.
In many ways the development of humankind can be compared to a wave; just like the swell, individual humans live in their time and place, they are not driven as travellers through distance or time for anything more than their short lives allow; it is the wave, not the water that is swept across the ocean.
As temporal observers, we observe the conditions that pertain to our own place and time. As prescient beings we are also able to observe and interpret the histories that have come before us and, to a lesser extent, predict the events to come, which may affect the latter part of our own lives and the lives of our offspring.
The crises that are upon us now can be compared to the wave that is approaching a shoreline. We, the water particles involved in the swell as it approaches land may, or may not, be part of the final energetic release of the wave; we may die before this moment and then only our contribution to the continued cycle of the wave will be counted, not our part in the mayhem of crashing water, swirling sand and foaming eddies.
To continue the analogy and surf toward the shore, there are two main types of wave: destructive and constructive; this terminology relates not to the wave itself but to its action on the coastline. Here the comparison seems at odds with the reality of the situation because in both cases the wave itself is destroyed; as the seafloor rises to meet the land the cyclical nature of the wave begins to experience distortion and then breaks.
The entire process is far too immense for humans to alter; instead we focus on protecting our property, the land, from either erosion or from being overlain by deposition. Sea walls, artificial reefs and other devices maintain our tenure from disappearing; dredging and the forestation of dunes keep wave and wind driven sands from covering our most precious resource. In the long run resistance is futile; the sea and the waves will always get their way. Short term measures, such as those enshrined in the constitution of the Netherlands, may keep the water at bay for a time; but for how much longer?
Battles against nature may be won but the war with nature can only succeed when it ceases to be a war and becomes a pact; such a pact can only be brought about by compromises on our side.
There are plenty of “water particles” bobbing along with us right now who have seen the truth; they are called scientists. Many of the world’s leaders, floating with us also, were initially blinded by the light, but now appear to be coming to understand the fate of the wave; for the wave is humanity or humankind, our species, and this wave is not a creation of the wind but the creation of a seismic event; it is a tsunami.