In the wake of a frighteningly widespread and devastating storm and on the eve of a high-stakes and bitter presidential election, much of our country is in need of healing and repair — physical, political and emotional.
Those who seek deeper meaning in seemingly random events need look no further than the impact of Hurricane Sandy as a powerful reminder of how much we take for granted in our daily lives, and the importance of stepping back to express gratitude for what we have while reaching beyond ourselves to care for others.
Tens of millions of Americans, so used to being connected to the world and each other through our phones, computers, and hand-held personal electronic devices, were without power this week. Not just the power of electricity but of control over our destiny. Suddenly, our concerns about our jobs and dreams of changing the world turned inward, to those of our most basic needs — food, shelter, a roof over our heads, seeking protection from the elements and being with, and taking care of, family, friends and neighbors.
It was a humbling experience as the skies darkened, the rains came and the wind howled in the dark, dark night. The impending sense of peril brought out the best in many of us, and acts of kindness abound (see story, page 1).
“This is bringing us together,” Ken Soloway, assistant executive director of the Kings Bay Y, said of the hurricane after the overwhelming response he received from Y members and beyond in response to requests for assistance.
“Something good has to come of this,” he told staff writer Steve Lipman, noting that he was considering some sort of follow-up program to sustain that camaraderie.
If only that could be done.
Those of us who endured the nightmare of 9/11 in New York remember that comforting sense of a city coming together in the wake of the tragedy, and of the slow, perhaps inevitable, dissolution of that spirit over time.
It shouldn’t take a calamity to bring us closer.
As we approach the end of a long, bitter and divisive political campaign over which vision of America we seek, we are a nation battered by the winds of angry rhetoric and half-truths. We are at risk of further polarization at the very moment we need to draw closer, recognizing our common concern for a strong, proud and caring United States.
On Tuesday, vote for the candidate of your choice, but don’t demonize his opponent, who may be your president for the next four years.
If Hurricane Sandy taught us anything it is that life is precious and unpredictable, and that we can work together to build and better our society, not just to ward off its destruction.