Once again an earthquake has struck Christchurch, only this time the denizens of that fair city haven't been as lucky as in September 2010 when there was no loss of life. At this stage the death toll is still to be determined but is likely to run into the hundreds. Add to that the injuries suffered by thousands and property damage suffered by ten of thousands and the impact of this disaster is immense.
The losses will be remembered for a long time but what I hope will also be remembered is the heroism - the actions of those hundreds of rescuers, some professional, some volunteers in organisations like Civil Defence and Red Cross, and others mere amateurs, who are prepared to risk their own lives to go into buildings to rescue others.
It seems heroism is something of a lost art in our 21st Century society. We actively discourage individual acts of heroism through the plethora of government regulations and agencies that are designed to ensure we are kept safe in every aspect of our lives. Sometimes we mistake self-indulgence for heroism - as in the case of the extreme sports exponents who get so much publicity for their feats.
It takes a disaster to reveal those who are truly heroic. We are seeing heroism in Christchurch today. That is the redeeming feature of disasters such as this and long may such admirable traits of humanity continue to shine.