It is ironic, in a sense, that we are a business that is in part based on history. In fact, without a historical context as a base, we don’t have much to go on. My guess is that there is an axiom here someplace – a truism that affects way more than our RM needs.

How is it that so many disasters – natural or otherwise – seem to be unforeseen? That is until the post-facto commission reports that it really was anticipated, but that the inability to share information, budget cuts or partisan-parochial issues kept most people in the dark and unprepared. Think about it. We build in flood areas and scratch our heads when floods devastate. We wonder about tsunami destruction when a recent book about the eruption of Krakatoa in the 1800’s was a bestseller. And we shake our heads about famine in regions that have been famine prone for centuries. And we watch terrorists destroy lives only to find out that many knew what they were up to.

One of the most telling stories I have read was regarding the tsunami and an indigenous fishing population on an Island near Thailand. Without any modern accoutrements, they were saved because their “DNA” wisdom had taught them to run for the high ground when the animals did and the sea recedes. Contrast that with a friend of mine walking on a beach in the region at the same time, who thought the immense low-tide was cool. Luckily, he ran fast.

So there you are and here is the quote:

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.

George Bernard Shaw

It seems to me that it doesn’t make much of difference if it’s us, the world, our business – somehow the unexpected isn’t that new, or really unexpected. Maybe we can be the voice of experience and use our talents and knowledge not just to help fix the world – as so many of our colleagues, all over the world are doing – but to avert and focus in better and more positive ways.

Wunderman New York and KBM in Dallas are acting as centers to coordinate efforts and collect funds in response to the hurricane, which will be matched. As with the tsunami, famine and terrorist attacks – be proud of the actions of your peers!

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