Dark clouds howling winds. Wind can be refreshing as a gentle summer’s breeze or wrathful and destructive as a hurricane; wind has no shape until it becomes a tornado. Its cone shape has no direction and its only purpose is destruction. The family depicted in John Steuart’s 1929 oil canvas “Tornado Over Kansas” (Wyrick, 2011) has faced this uncomfortable and unforgiving wind before. The family’s only option is to leave the comforts of their home and to retreat to the only safe place from the tornado, the underground cellar. The father figure is ushering his family to the safety of the cellar while trying to remain calm, yet move swiftly trying to convey the sense of urgency. To panic will only make this situation worse and his job is to protect his family and get them to safety. The mother has the look of panic and worry over her face, for she doesn’t want to be the first one in the cellar. Because of her nurturing nature she wants to ensure the safety of her children. The little girl is looking to her father wanting to hear it will be ok, but all anyone can do is hope it will be ok.
Panic is the basic instinct to protect oneself from uncomfortable emotions, situations, and disapproval by others and it is often driven by the fear of the unknown or unexpected. Change and fear of the unknown are panic drivers. No one likes to be removed from the comforts of what is familiar, like the family in the picture doesn’t want to abandon their home, nor can they be sure the tornado will leave their home standing; they can only hope it will.
Can panic be controlled? No, there will always be panic in a stressful or unfamiliar situation or environment but what can be controlled is the behavior and actions displayed during these times. Focus is a strong driving force to control panic. By focusing on someone or something, other than the situation causing panic one can move mountains. Like every hero/heroine of the 911 tragedy. The survivors and the firefighters focused on the getting the others to safety and more lives were saved. The father by remaining focused on getting his family to safety and the two young boys focusing on…