The rise of social order in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake is occurring in the tent cities that have sprung up and is especially amazing given that the formal government is still in disarray.
In the tent cities, “committees agitate to secure food, water and supplies in high demand from international aid organizations.”
In one encampment, the makeshift “President” of the tent city of 2,000 stated: “we knew we wouldn’t receive any assistance unless we formed a committee…there is no government but us.”
So the people organized and formed an “executive committee,” took a census, provided aid organizations lists of their residents to help in the distribution of aid, and have even started to issue identification cards. Committees are also setting up people to work as security guards for “keeping the peace.”
To me, there are many lessons from this story of hope and reemergence:
1. Order prevails over chaos: Even amidst some of the most horrific events shattering lives and communities, social order takes root again and drives away the surrounding chaos. While conditions on the ground are still horrific, people realize that they are stronger planning and working together for the greater good than wallowing in a state of pandemonium and fighting each other.
2. Governance emerges even in the absence of government: Structured decision-making is so basic to societal functioning that it emerges even in the absence of strong formal government institutions. So certainly with government intact and vital, we need to establish sound governance to meet the needs of our constituents in a transparent, organized, and just fashion.
3. “Where there is life, there is hope”—this is an old saying that I used to hear at home from my parents and grandparents and it seems appropriate with the dire situation in Haiti. Despite so much death and suffering there, the people who survived, have reason to be hopeful in the future. They are alive to see another day—and despite its enormous challenges—can rebuild and make for a better tomorrow.
These lessons are consistent with the notion to me of what enterprise architecture is all about—the creation of order out of chaos and the institution of meaningful planning and governance as the basis for ongoing sustainment and advancement of the institutions they support.
Finally, it shouldn’t take a disaster like an earthquake for any of us to realize that these elements of social order are the basic building blocks that we all depend on to survive and thrive.
The real question is why in disaster we eventually band together, but in times of calm we tear each other apart?