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Life behind the dikes (or dams)

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Clio's Temple

Life behind the dikes (or dams)

The late J.M. Juran, industrial quality guru, referred to "life behind the quality dikes" as a way of denoting how dependent we are on the things which stand between us and disaster. Yesterday's terrorist outrage in Nice is but one example of how we normally expect to go about our daily business, free from danger.

It doesn't take a terrorist attack, though, to bring home the force of Juran's words. My home state of South Carolina suffered an inundation of Biblical dimensions last October. One of the lessons learned from that disaster was that the many dams in the Columbia area, which in normal times impound ponds or lakes that add joy to living and value to real estate, can turn on us. A cascading series of dam failures, particularly on the east side of Columbia, have left many homeowners and businesses to wonder about when the dams will be rebuilt, and who will pay for the rebuilding.

"The creek was there long before the town whose life it came to dominate. Rising in the hills of northeast Georgia, it wended its way southeastward, gravity drawing it toward the Atlantic some three hundred miles distant." These are the opening lines from my novella A Dirge for Maxwell, which will be published in October as part of a Kindle e-book titled Tangled Woods and Dark Waters.

The overall theme of Dirge is how the stable, safe world of a textile town comes apart under the pressure of forces beyond its control. When a flooding creek inflicts lethal damage on the town, it is only the last straw, but the camel's back breaks nonetheless.

I'm not the sort of person to impress people with scare tactics, but the fabric of life may come unraveled despite our best efforts to preserve it. What are the dikes or dams in our lives on which we depend for protection?

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