Some Thoughts Inspired By the Ruiz Situation

Situation Note

I’m going to set up a Ruiz page for these updates because I suspect we might be close to what volcanologists reportedly call “the show”; because Dr. Makario Londoño, in last night’s SGC tweet, spoke of a large volume of magma rising, which this layperson thinks could well translate into a Plinian eruption, requiring many blog posts, especially if that 10 to 15-minute warning time he mentioned plays out; and also because it is Ruiz and still haunted by the ghosts of its victims in November 1985.

I thought of them last night while moonlight and its own summit glow lit up Nevado del Ruiz on the Cerro Gualí cam.

Looking at it live this way made that 1985 tragedy real to me, thousands of miles away.

This morning, I had a few more thoughts.

Some thoughts

This volcano is in/near cartel country and perhaps also the region of armed partisan conflict.

Nationally, in Colombia, and internationally, we all might, in coming months to years, see whose actions are overall more important in human terms: those of the volcano — older than the nation and with whom Colombianos have always lived and died — or those of late 20th/21st-century dopers and haters.

Here in the US, as well as in some other parts of the world, that could translate into how each of us reacts to a humanitarian disaster, if Ruiz sets one off: “How can I help?” or “Can I still get cocaine?”

You can’t do both.

Given the horrible effects of the drug trade and insurgency on Colombia and its people, there is no middle ground here, though we often try to pretend it exists.

That’s just a dodge to avoid having to be honest with ourselves.

Dante Aligheri expressed this well in the portion of The Inferno referenced, intentionally or not, I think, in the opening of this movie:

An excerpt:

There sighs, complaints, and ululations loud
Resounded through the air without a star,
Whence I, at the beginning, wept thereat.

Languages diverse, horrible dialects,
Accents of anger, words of agony,
And voices high and hoarse, with sound of hands,

Made up a tumult that goes whirling on
For ever in that air for ever black,
Even as the sand doth, when the whirlwind breathes.

“This miserable mode
Maintain the melancholy souls of those
Who lived withouten infamy or praise.

Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.

The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair;
Nor them the nethermore abyss receives,
For glory none the damned would have from them.”

“These have no longer any hope of death;
And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate.

No fame of them the world permits to be;

Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.”


Dante Aligheri was often canceled by the culture of his day (his exile from Florence, for example), but the man knew how to pose for a picture:

That’s Florence on the right, and Dante is calmly holding up his writing to it and pointing out the way to Hell on the left. The BURN! was possible only because that society believed, to the point of martyrdom, in Heaven and Hell, as well as in Florence and literature. On Dante himself, opinions were strong but mixed during his lifetime, but we all know his name now.
(Image by Jim Forest, CC BY-SA-NC-ND).

Dr. Makario Londoño’s name spelling corrected, May 6, 2023.

Featured image: danquin via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0.

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