Wow, another December 7th has passed. Life’s kaleidoscope twists and presses the view upon us with new colors and old thoughts. I read the Wikipedia description, HERE. I’m not even close to being a military strategist, historian, or personal observer, but think Wiki has a pretty good handle on the description of events. Their discussion on how this successful Japanese tactical event eventually cost them the war is interesting.
Wiki also has an interesting list and critique of books and movies on the subject.
As I said, I wasn’t around, but I was born in the SF Bay Area, a hub of military activity before, during, and after the war, and my father worked in the shipyards, with US Steel, during the war. As a result, the war I missed was still an integral part of my upbringing.The idea that we on the West Coast were only an ocean away, that submarines were off our shores, Ft Stevens was shelled, and that there was even a small but deadly balloon attack, left all of us with the deep understanding that an ocean and the people on the other side of it weren’t so far away and imaginary. Perhaps in an odd way, because we were so aware, it fostered eventually the growth of the Pacific Rim concept, trading partners, commonalities.
The article in the CS Monitor yesterday made me think of another commonality-a relationship with 9-11. The Monitor says:
“A better explanation for the enormity of the US defeat might be that the attack was a so-called black swan event: something so far outside the realm of expectations that Americans could not conceive of it occurring.”
Sure enough, Wiki had already linked the two together. Nassim Nicholas Taleb described the theory in his 2007 book entitled: “The Black Swan”. There will always be Black Swan Events. No matter how hard we try to prepare, some things will just be outside our frame of reference.
It is difficult to imagine the desperation and freneticism of the few souls who found themselves on the advancing edge event of World War II or 9-11, and tried to warn their compatriots. It is difficult to plum the later misery for those who saw those Black Swan Events coming but didn’t understand them.
High impact Black Swan Events happen more then we realize. I personally have had one event in my life, which might fall into this category, where I found myself on the leading edge. I know I suffered.
Always, some of us will find ourselves in the leading edge of these events. Maybe it helps to understand that we are part of a continuum. I wanted, after my event, to analyze and avoid future incidences. Others in involved in my event did not. It a human condition. Besides, Counterfactual History does not necessarily prepare us for the next Black Swan Event.
In keeping with the Black Swan Model, my life certainly went in a new direction. Likewise, for those who were involved in Pearl Harbor Day, the whole world changed. Yet, their experiences did not prepare us for 9-11. Can we say that 9-11 has prepared us for the next event? Ultimately, though we try, we just can’t prepare for everything. Except, perhaps, the commonality of suffering.