When I was struggling with agonizing questions and problems surrounding my aging parents care needs I had a heightened awareness to everything around me. I suspect that was because I felt my life was at stake. Within that awareness, comfort and answers came to me through everyday experiences. I found much relief in the natural world, but I also found it in a variety of other ways such as a look, a word or phrase, and often from a National Public Radio program. One such NPR program was a sociologist’s analysis of the Challenger Disaster. I summarized the high points of that program for me in my memoir as follows:
Events leading to the tragedy showed how historical decisions created a layered inflexible bureaucracy that compromised the integrity of the original mission. Everyone got all tangled up in the rules. Production concerns created debate between engineers and top managers, and engineers were not involved in policy and production decisions. Intuition and common sense were disallowed (just look out the window and see the ice); they thought pressure would force O rings in place. Push mute button on a conference call between managers and engineers for an aside managerial conference. The pilot was not part of the launch decision. And point the finger of blame away from yourself.
That analysis was a great metaphor for the problems I had with my father over my mother’s care and also for the difficulty I was experiencing with my church. What if we used the Challenger analysis as a template showing us what not to do? Would respectful dialogue been seen as essential in all endeavors? Would women have half the voice and participation in what affects their lives? Could common sense rule and simplify life? Would we be able to look at ourselves and see where our complicity lay?