Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Down, Not Out

I’ve written before about the awesome power of the natural world around us. I have challenged a raging river, and was humbled. Witnessed huge fires destroying hundreds of acres of land. Watched on television as volcanoes erupted spewing their lava over peoples homes, mudslides destroy neighborhoods, a tsunami wipe out village after village, winds uproot huge majestic trees, rivers flood cities, hurricanes destroy thousands of homes, tornadoes leveling trailer parks, and yes, even rode out an earthquake while clinging to a toilet.

It seems the news reports each event as if they are astonished that these things happen. Are humans so naïve that they truly think that we can control the natural elements on this planet? I especially enjoy watching the world point fingers at people, or entire nations, as if they were personally responsible for the weather.

There is no mistake that these events are scary at times, unpredictable, and sometimes just plain horrific. Each cataclysmic event leaves in its wake tragic tales that will be told for years to come. The loss people feel is genuine, and the lives that are affected, numerous.

To the educated observer we truly have no control over when Mother Nature decides to take a turn for the worse. With our limited abilities we can merely try and get out of her way until the temper has subsided, and the Earth allows us the time to pick up the pieces and rebuild as best we can.

When we colonize other planets, we will then be facing the wrath of new worlds, and their strange natural occurrences. It will never end; we have to just accept it as the price we pay as residents on an ever-evolving natural body.

Luckily, the same natural world that hits us with a variety of interesting disasters has also created us. We have survived this long and progressed because we have the strength to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. So says a song.

This does not lessen the pain of loss, it may not even make us feel any better, but it is what drives us to carry on.

Beyond our internal drive, we also have the support of those around us. As I have discussed in the past, the human race seems to thrive best on a gang mentality. In nature we call this strength in numbers. Whether your particular “gang” is the local church, your family, or another organization that you belong to, the people you associate with will help carry you through difficult times.

Our country rises up to not only help other countries around the world, but regardless of some negative news stories, we have shown that we also come to the assistance of our fellow citizens when they are down.

During this past disaster, I was also heartened to see numerous countries stand up and provide assistance to the United States. I don’t recall this happening in a large way in my lifetime. To be fair, we have mostly been able to care for ourselves through most disasters, but this time we seem to have been kicked while we were already down and still reeling from liberating a country of a madman and assisting tsunami victims.

As I see countries pulling together to help everyone who live on the planet, I know there is hope for our future. It seems more and more we are coming together as world, rather then petty squabbling nations. There are a few countries it seems who still think they live in the days where they must conquer the planet like some poorly written James Bond villain, but those are getting fewer as time passes.

Unfortunately for all the good a natural disaster brings out in people, it also seeks out the idiots of the world. People trying to prevent evacuees from entering their town, looters who are not stealing for survival, but stealing because they are thugs, politicians who use Mother Nature as an excuse to further their agendas, and disgruntled individuals that appear to be mentally deranged on their world view.

I’m pleased that the humanity, care, and love for our countrymen has overshadowed the people who are trying so hard to drag hatred into this most recent event. Cheers to those of you giving money, blood, time and supplies to the people in need.

My most exalted praise goes to those companies who immediately jumped in and provided whatever they possibly could to help the victims of Katrina. That sort of assistance blows me away, and makes me proud to be a part of this country.

As for the government, shame on you. The attempted reaction was quick, but it was too little too late. After 911 we have been assured that we were ready for another major incident, we have been led astray. If this had been a terrorist attack that affected a large city, we would look just as inept as we did for this natural emergency.

I would like to see several large warehouses of supplies in strategic parts of the country, and several teams spread out throughout the country as well. These people can be military volunteers, just like a team of volunteer fireman, who at a moments notice can be in place within hours, not days. I know our military is capable of doing this; we just need to get it done! The Red Cross already does this, but they could use a large military group of folks as well to fill in the manpower gaps.

President Bush has accepted this failure like a true leader, and I’m positive that only good will be the result. Like Rudolph Juliani said, 911 was a learning experience, and so too was this natural disaster. We got caught with our proverbial pants down, and let’s hope we don’t get caught a second time.

There are times when humans can get a little down, but as we all know, we are never out of this game called life. My heart goes out to all who have been caught up in this latest disaster. I hope you all find that this country is behind you. It won’t ever be easy, but you’re not alone.

Good luck to you all!

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