Do We Learn from Others’ Mistakes?

History and hindsight allow us the opportunity of learning and improving. But we must decide whether or not we will learn from the past — from our mistakes and those of others — to plan for a better future.

We saw disaster strike in Katrina, and saw the hordes of people suffering, starving, and sleeping in the stadium. Looters went after such unsustainable items as beer and potato chips, rushing in a frenzy to find whatever they could to “survive” until things blew over.

As one example of many, consider the following news report of the massive looting that took place after the hurricane had hit:

More recently, we have the example of the earthquake in Haiti where some of the pictures plainly illustrate the importance of being prepared, including this one:

Clearly, the place to be in the aftermath of a disaster, whether man-made or natural, is anywhere but in public unless your security can be assured, or the circumstances require you go out and assist others. Chaos reigns in these environments where unprepared people fight over the most basic of supplies, and masses swarm around any relief that is provided from external sources. Looting is rampant, conditions are often unsanitary, and one’s security is anything but certain when surrounded by desperate people resorting to desperate actions to feed themselves and their families.

Not all disasters result in such chaos, however. The most recent example we have to learn from is ongoing at this moment, and far more tame than the other examples mentioned here. I’m referring to the so-called “snowpocalypse” pounding the eastern seaboard with several feet of snow. The federal government has been shut down for a few days, people are cooped up inside of their homes, and the store shelves are bare:

(Images via

We have ample examples from which to learn, if only we will let these experiences serve as catalysts for our own preparation. It’s not necessary that we suffer through such circumstances ourselves to learn what we can do in the future. Indeed, it is more advantageous that we learn from the mistakes of others in order to be better prepared if and when we are faced with the same situations.

4 Replies to “Do We Learn from Others’ Mistakes?”

  1. Or do we think “Well, that is a 3rd world country, those things couldn't happen in the US.”?
    Well, there is the proof. It can happen here, and fast.

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