Friday, December 08, 2006

The Kim family

The analogy to the Donner Party is unavoidable -- a family stranded in the snow with little food, coping with their situation for as long as they could until finally one of them left the others to go for help. Like many others, I watched the story of the stranded Kim family unfold with great concern, rejoicing when Kati Kim and her daughters were found alive, praying for her still missing husband, and grieving when he was finally found dead.

I remember thinking, "I just hope they don't start badmouthing the family, they way they did the Everest expeditions of 1996." (The Donner Party has come in for a lot of abuse and ridicule, too.) It's bad enough that people suffered and died; do we need to make matters worse for the survivors? I was consequently heartened to hear a member of the Oregon State police state emphatically on television this morning, "James Kim did nothing wrong."

Interestingly, the officer's name was Hastings.

1 comment:

Kenneth Dunn said...

Hi, Kristin.
First off, THANK YOU for everything you have given to fans of history with your website, your book, and your endless dedication! You rock.

I, too, watched this story closely, maybe even with some guilt. In our warm, stress-free living rooms, it is so easy to make judgments about the choices of others. I pray that the media will give Kati Kim the privacy she requested.

However, if she chooses someday to speak about their days of entrapment, I wonder what insight she will provide for those of us who study the Donner Party. Who doesn't wonder about the gut-wrenching conversations/debates/arguments/fights that must have taken place as Tamzene and George Donner weighed their options? What was it like for the parents who left their kids behind, or sent the kids ahead, or opted to stay together? Each family made different decisions. Outcomes varied with the weather and it is impossible to say who chose poorly.

It's my opinion that, just like the Kim's, the members of the Donner Party did the very best they could with the knowledge and resources within their control. These people were not trying to guess a coin toss. There's something wrong with spewing criticism in the same way we might mock a contestant on Howie Mandell's "Deal-No Deal".

Kenneth D