Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Plate Tectonics

The lithosphere of the Earth is the outermost shell of our planet. It is not a continuous structure, but instead is made up of a small number of what are known as tectonic plates. These plates are continental size structures that have the freedom to move and to shift relative to the underlying solid mantle. For folks dwelling far from the edges of the plate boundaries, they have no inkling that the collisional forces can result in massive energy release where the plates come together. These boundary regions can be quite unstable, sometimes resulting in what are called fault lines, where earthquakes are prevalent due to the pressures that the plates exert on their neighbors.

While the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift is interesting to consider in its own right, I was thinking about it recently from the standpoint of a different sort of illustration. Consider the people around you, maybe those at work, those waiting in line around you at the supermarket, or folks wandering around the stores in the mall. Many of these folks are living their lives in a sort of cruise control mode, far from any sort of unstable edge. For the most part they are at peace, in equilibrium with their surroundings. However, some fraction of those around us are going through upheaval on a grand scale in their lives. They are dealing with health issues of their own or of family members, death, financial troubles, depression, divorce, and conflicts at work, all on the boundary of their life's tectonics. The pressures they are feeling are tearing them apart, but they are still trying their best to function and to do what they need to do to survive and to look like the rest of us.

Sometimes people might not respond to us in kindness. They may be oblivious to our presence, seemingly careless, clumsy, or absent minded. It just might be that they are struggling to deal with major disturbances in their life. Perhaps we could give them the benefit of the doubt and to curb our hasty judgements, our malicious gossip, and our harsh tongues.