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Knowledge shared –– and taught

EMERGENCY911 block-1Knowledge shared is usually appreciated by whoever receives that knowledge. Any person can share their knowledge on a subject, but not everyone can teach.

Not everyone can combine their personal dedication to a professional discipline with pausing at the same time to impart knowledge to someone whose enthusiasm for the subject needs to be balanced by discipline and training in order to better understand how to use said knowledge shared.

In August, as I celebrated five years with Barbados TODAY, I extended my thanks to Carl Moore and Charles Harding for the time they had taken to teach me all they knew about being a reporter. I however must admit that Charles did have some difficulty in getting me to curb my enthusiasm as he did his best to impart knowledge.

Charles Harding was as dedicated to teaching me how to be a good reporter as he was to the paper that he was an integral part of. Did he succeed? From my perspective, I think that he did.

He taught me that attention to detail and accuracy while pursuing a story also required patience.

Career opportunities in another country took me away from journalism; but the knowledge gained while under the tutelage of Carl Moore and Charles Harding proved invaluable.

It is always sad to accept the reality that a close friend, family member or work colleague has died. What is sometimes even more difficult to accept is the departure of that person who played such a significant role in your development.

Ridley Greene said yesterday, in commenting on Charles’ passing, that we tend only to reflect on and promote a person’s great qualities and contributions when they are gone. Unfortunately, this is a very true reality, as the pressure of keeping up with an aggressive ever-changing society does not always allow for much personal time to share with each other.

Are we now so busy that we can only publicly comment on friends and family when death enters the equation?

Will Charles be missed? Most definitely. Did his presence in my life influence how I developed as an adult? Yes. Did I ever
thank him for what he shared with me? Yes. And for the record, I am saying it again. Thanks, Charles.

The saga of death versus preparedness once more continues. Over the weekend Hurricane Patricia approached the Mexican coastline at Category 5, entering the history books with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour and seas at 50 feet.

It left behind hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the Mexican infrastructure, but its rains headed towards Texas, United States, and proceeded to flood hundreds of square miles of residential property.

Sunday was just another day, but on Monday everything changed for hundreds of people living in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Associated Press today reported that according to Afghan and Pakistani officials, 258 people had died in Pakistan and 78 in Afghanistan in the magnitude-7.5 quake which was centred deep beneath the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan’s sparsely populated Badakhshan province, that borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.

Ironically a similar magnitude-7.6 quake hit Pakistan on October 8, 2005, killing more than 80,000 people and leaving more than three million homeless, most of them in the north-west of the country and in the divided region of Kashmir.

The exact details of this weekend’s quake is still being measured, but the death toll is not expected to be as high as 2005’s. Pakistani officials said that more than 2,000 people were injured in yesterday’s event, which also damaged more than 4,000 homes in the hardest hit areas near the epicentre.

In Afghanistan, authorities confirmed 78 dead and 466 wounded, based on numbers reported by hospitals across the country, and that more than 1,500 houses there were either destroyed or damaged.

Qameruddin Sediqi, an adviser to the public health minister told the Associated Press: “We believe the exact numbers are much higher, because not all people bring the bodies to the hospitals. So there are many that are not being counted. And there are still areas we don’t have access to; so we are not aware of the situation there.”

In Barbados, tragedy once more unfolds as four more lives are lost in another traffic accident. Statistically, it will not matter what the final numbers are at the end of 2015. What will matter is that lives have been lost through traffic accidents.

It suggests, therefore, that while many opinions may be given on how to reduce the incidence of traffic accidents –– as through the introduction of harsher road traffic regulations or physical infrastructural improvements to the country’s roads –– no two views will ever be in complete harmony on how to manage human social behaviour when drivers sit behind the wheel of a vehicle.

The issue here is not one of minimizing the tragedy of the death of four more vibrant young women, but the recognition of the unnecessary pain of loss now being experienced by those left behind to mourn their departure. Any life lost through the violence of a traffic accident is as unnecessary as that same life being lost through
the violence of a crime.

Preparedness comes into focus when the causative factors contributing to such loss are analysed; and appropriate corrective measures are introduced to mitigate any future occurrences. However while the physical infrastructural methods may be appropriate for the physical management of the problem, the societal behavioural corrective measures can only be implemented through the cooperation of the entire society.

There are some critics who have stated quite emphatically that traffic accidents can only be reduced by the introduction of harsher penalties through the court system. But this alone still offers no guarantee of effectiveness. It in fact suggests that laws, wider roads, and slower highway speeds will only marginally influence social change
in the average driver.

In this regard I would suggest that we look at the failures of the more metropolitan countries of Europe and North America where these views and opinions already been tried, before one jumps to the conclusion that behaviour on the roads of any country can be influenced by forced regulatory practices.

Road rage and excessive speeds still plague European and North American highways on almost daily. Death through a traffic accident occurs almost every day somewhere in the United States, the emotional pain experienced by those left behind to mourn that loss lingering sometimes “forever”.

Meaningful changes in social behaviour of people using the roads of any country only come through cooperation.

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