Hurricanes remind me of our frailty and that as much as we like to think otherwise that we don’t control everything. They also remind me that when compared to the majority of humanity that as a nation we exercise a good deal of control over our immediate environment. Perhaps this is one reason why 9/11 was so shocking, our space was invaded, our control was shattered. In other regions of the world the loss of so many people at one time would have been yet another sad but true chapter in a world of uncertainty. Loss upon loss is the way of much of the world, we forget this.
As Sandy approaches our shores we are prepared and we are preparing; we have the knowledge to prepare, we have the means to prepare, and if we aren’t prepared it is our own fault. Much of the world does not have this advance knowledge (I’m speaking of the masses), and if it does have advance warning it does not have the means to prepare as we prepare. Living in our American cocoon it is easy to forget how others live.
But even with our advance warning and preparation hurricanes can kill us, after we control everything we can control we can still be killed, we can still die; whether by a hurricane or tornado or drunk driver or cancer – at our strongest we are frail – a falling tree can kill us – a tree that we can cut down with a chain saw can kill us; a virus which the naked eye cannot see can invade our bodies and bring this life to an end. Much of the world lives daily with the tenuousness of life, death is a part of life; for us death is an intrusion, an alien – since it challenges our frailty we give it a quick nod and then get back to our lives of control. An argument for cemeteries and mausoleums is that they remind us of what we need to be reminded of – that death awaits us all and that we should live for eternity – that we are fools if we don’t think the amusement park ride will stop and we’ll have to get off.
Hurricanes are a reminder that we just can’t control everything, a reminder that life is frail and fragile, and a reminder that much of the world lives in conditions far different from that of North America.