A technology-caused disaster is an outward signal that something has gone wrong with a system intended to ensure well-being and safety for a community. The resultant injury to health, security, and happiness is devastating. The disaster is, therefore, a major crisis in a community.
It is true that the disaster is inherently unjust; sooner or later the wrongs must be addressed. Thus, a potential dilemma for faith communities, the Taskforce, or pastors exists among three roles: pastoral, neutral/unbiased, and prophetic strategies.
Pastoral Strategy The pastoral role, often manifested as humanitarian aid, is a natural response when people are hurting and need basic support for needs of living. Local agencies, congregations, and the Taskforce respond to the personal and family needs of the affected. This function may be the primary activity or merely an initial effort.
Neutral or Unbiased Strategy The neutral/unbiased, calming influence in a community experiencing turmoil or conflict is a second possible strategy. The Taskforce, the congregations, and their leaders have been urged in this guidebook to call the facts to light, offer clear and accurate communication, and act as a go-between to be sure all parties are brought to the table. Of course, a tension may exist between this strategy and that of being prophetic or advocate.
Prophetic or Advocate Strategy Lastly, one role this guidbook names for the Taskforce and the faith community is that of being advocate and a prophetic voice for those who need such support. In some cases, the advocate role is that of being a spokesperson. However, the prophetic voice may mean steps beyond the advocacy to include confrontation of chronic wrongs and call community and business leadership to responsibility. For some persons, this may mean crossing the line from private life (or faith) to public involvement.
The Dilemma There is not an obvious or easy answer to the melding or separation of these 3 roles because of the differences of communities and the differences in the disaster.
The church that took the time to answer those hard questions in the section on Community Preparedness and Assessment and engaged the long-term recovery anyway will be helpful support to the Taskforce.
Questions and tips that may help the Taskforce in facing the dilemma include:
What needs did the findings from the Hearing reveal? Is there a need for assistance beyond the pastoral care of feeding, shelter, etc.?
Did the Hearing give indication that there are advocacy issues or lingering questions that call for public policy changes?
Is there a subgroup in the taskforce or the community that is willing to pursue public policy changes that may be called for?
Is there willingness within the community leadership to affect public policy? Will there be support for pursuing the issues?
Is the Taskforce in position to confront the community entities that may be in opposition to efforts to address the "wrongs"?
Is there need for a neutral process person to assist the Taskforce with decision-making relative to these strategies?