Sandy Reflections

Sandy Reflections

by Dr. George H. Elder

            Well, Hurricane Sandy is nearly over, although there are still millions without power and tens of thousands have lost their homes. Like many others, I thought this storm was going to be much ado about nothing, such is the press’s typical yadda-yadda spin on things. But this time, the weather guys and press got it right. It was indeed the perfect Frankenstorm storm in terms of destruction. Some good preparation managed to keep deaths down to around 50 or so, although the counting isn’t done.

              What is scary are the pictures ofNew Jersey’s coastal cities. They are wiped out over vast swaths of land. It was tidal surge for the most part, but wind damage was also a big factor. In one place, a wind-blown fire started in a flooded community, and 110 homes, apartments, and businesses were burned out. The first responders were magnificent, and did their best despite chest-high waters. No one was lost in that particular incident, although there are dozens of tragic stories.

             The main killers during the storm were falling trees, some of which had stood for 300 years. In one case, two young teens were lost, with one visiting his buddy in a kind of storm sleep-over. God, I hope it was quick, and I cannot imagine the angst the parents must feel. Yeah, none of us knew it was going to get this bad. The early estimates are 20+ Billion in direct damage and another 30+ Billion in indirect losses to business.

             As I reflect upon it, I think God tries to tell us things–though we hardly ever get the message. In this case, we have the second major Northeast hurricane in two years, both of which caused devastating floods. Yeah,Vermontgot pummeled last year, and I saw that mess first hand. It was sickening–washed out homes and communities, LNG tanks, trees, and debris bobbing up and down in the raging currents.

             Huge ice sheets are melting and the average temperature is climbing at a rate that makes these storm more likely. But will we do anything about it? Hell, no! Humans are about as responsive as frogs placed in a vat of water that is slowly heated. The poor creatures turn into frog stew before doing anything to escape, and thus is our plight.

             We simply endure instead of acting, and by the time we do decide to move–it is often too late. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this approach will lead. There are lots of Sandy’s waiting in the wings as the weather patterns destabilize, and hundred-year storms may become the norm fairly soon.

             In terms of politics, we have those happy folks who believe that the government should have a minimum role in our lives. They live by this odd creed that the private sector is ideal in solving all problems, and that government is inevitably piss-poor at doing anything. Then there are those who believe government should have a role, albeit a positive one. In a lot of ways, this is what the current election is all about.

             On one side, we have Romney–the champion of free enterprise, a man who has made it perfectly clear that he wants to cut government spending in order to save our future. Hell, he even campaigned on the idea of eliminating FEMA and other disaster relief programs, calling them “immoral.”

             On the other side, we have a barely competent man, but one who believes that government can have a positive role. I didn’t vote for Obama first time around, but note that he inherited an awful situation from that dolt of a man who ran the show for eight years, George Bush minor. Now that guy is living proof that some of us are much dumber than frogs. Nonetheless, he was elected twice–often by jingoistic bluster that has lead us to ruinous financial losses and costly military adventures.

             So what does God do? The Devine demonstrates a force that no individual can stand before, and that only the collective power of a government can help us survive. Yet do you think anyone got the message? Like I said, folks can be as dumb as frogs, and many just won’t get it–no matter how loudly God yells.

             I sure as hell do not love Obama, but I’m going to vote for him. He’s done a fair job with a barely manageable financial situation–though no one wants to tell the people the truth. The banks are holding so many bad debts that it may take an entire generation to get beyond what blind greed has wrought. Yeah, a lot of the bastards that caused this mess have floated ever so gently to earth on their golden parachutes while the rest of us got a golden shower of financial woes.

             But beyond all that, we have to listen when God speaks, and yeah–I believe this storm was a sign. We need FEMA! We need emergency responders! We need government involvement when the waters raise and the winds roar! Ideology won’t keep the kids alive when our homes crumble, and it’s only our collective efforts that can preserve us against these travails. This should be an obvious lesson, yet we have become so enamored of greed that many Americans simply do not see it.

             Hey, if some folks want to be frogs, that’s fine and dandy. But I’ll be damned if those people should be allowed to drag the rest of us down with them. Before Sandy, I Googled– Romney disaster relief. There was about 700,000 hits, IIRC, with many of them noting how he wanted to dump FEMA, etc.. I contacted every news service and toss-up state organization that I could about this undeniable fact. I am sure I wasn’t alone, but the collective impetus has resulted in a Google search of — Romney disaster relief — now getting 28,800,000 hits.

             Oh, Romney is backing off his hyperbole, saying that he now supports FEMA and disaster relief. But he has such a history of saying whatever is needed to win a given crowd that I don’t believe him. The man’s true ideals come out when he is amongst his kindred, and that idealism is based more on greed and divisiveness than any kind of altruism. His is a Laissez-faire creed, one that eschews government for the sake of the rugged individual. Yet what individual can stand before a force of nature, the breath of God?

             I don’t know if the truth behind all this matters. We hardly ever listen when God speaks to us, and some even dare speculate that God doesn’t speak at all. Well, I’ve had the good luck of nearly dying, and am currently hanging on by painful threads. I have learned to be thankful for every moment and to listen more than I ever did before. And believe me, God does speak to us. We seldom notice what God has to say, but how could anyone one miss a scream likeSandygave us?

             We’ll see in less than a week. We have the impetus of individualistic greed verses the power of the collective good. It will be very close, but if we choose incorrectly, I wonder what we’ll do when God next gives us a nudge on the shoulder, a good talking to? Because then there may be nowhere to turn, no collective power that can spare our old, young, helpless, and lost. That’s the choice we face, frogs and humans alike.




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