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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Ultimate Fail-Safe Response

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Today following a severe systems crash in his lab in which three years of data were lost, Robert Norton said that at lunch he saw a serious traffic accident and observed that in comparison to what some people were suffering that day, his computer problems were not that bad.  He was able to be thankful despite his misfortune.

In the final analysis, I suppose there are no completely fail-safe computer systems.  All systems, no matter how carefully planned and considered as critical, can fail.  I often think of my bank in this regard.  No doubt it has redundancies and backups by the score, and this makes total failure almost impossible.  It is a system as solid as the Empire State Building.  But no matter how all contingencies are considered, catastrophes beyond the most thorough planning can occur.  There is always the inconceivable lurking behind all our fail-safe safeguards.

That is why humans in great wisdom continually keep in reserve the Ultimate Fail-Safe Response.  This response is designed to help humans overcome all obstacles.  It should not be viewed cynically as a rationalization, but as a powerful coping mechanism.  The Ultimate Fail-Safe Response is simply this: when something bad happens, we consider that in the scope of all possible tragedies, our misfortune is not that bad.  It is not so bad that we cannot recover our initiative and begin again.  This addresses a fundamental human emotional need to endure and prevail following great misfortune.  The Ultimate Fail-Safe Response is what humans invoke to redeem an unredeemable situation.  It is a response of the spirit that works to realize William Faulkner’s famous observation: I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.

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