Sept. 20, 2005, 9:56 a.m.

Managed Chaos

In whatever place we find ourselves in, chaos is there. At home, infants and toddlers go about their business, not minding the dangers involved. They stick things into the electric sockets, push buttons on CPUs, TV and radio and turn all kinds of knobs. Their care becomes priority number 1. Similarly, children of all ages try to see how things work, tinkering on gadgets and appliances, and then wait for things to happen. They ride bikes and scooters at anxiety-provoking speeds. Multiply that with their number of playmates... chaos in the making. In the hospital setting, especially at the ER (first hand experience as a medical clerk and intern in 1988-1991), all kinds of patients are brought in, mostly without anything with them (we don't have insurance in the Philippines), no money. In the middle of chaos, the only thing we can do is magic, not taught is class. Everybody pitches in, even the doctors in training (students included). Somehow the needed surgery is done amidst the scarcity. Maybe some people in the First World will be shocked; everything is recycled, everything is being sterilized over and over again, including the cotton balls, tubes, sutures, needles, plastic syringes, even the NSS (normal saline solution). If nothing can be squeezed in terms of resources, such are referred to various donors and benefactors. We can go on and on with examples but perhaps the point is clear. Chaos is everywhere. We have only to manage it. How can it be done?

By default, get the leadership role if that's not yet clear especially if you're trained for it. There has to be a leader; and to assert your authority, as Admiral Nimitz said, "when you're in command, command"! Imagine the situation in the ER, or perhaps the battlefields of conflict. Logic should be utilized, never panic, creating a hierarchy of tasks, treating the more injured patients first, etc. In a perfect system, every individual has a role, no matter how trivial. In the recent hurricane catastrophe in the U.S., no leader emerged at least in the first few hours or even days of the incident, and now people are pointing fingers in all directions. Here at home, to the chagrin of the political opposition, the political chaos is handled systematically by the administration and its allies, no matter how humble the participant. Those in the administration who panicked, and bolted it prematurely, are now seen as unprincipled, in spite of their claim to be for the truth. The other side does not have any leader or any modest alternative. Now I see them as cry babies in their self-inflicted loss.

To all my countrymen, I end... never be a rudder-less ship in the middle of the tempest; seek for the North star and you'll find the shore in no time. Chaos is just a state of mind. As St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14.33, "...God is not a God of confusion but of peace."