As the reports of the devastation and destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy continue to dominate the news, it has been hard for me not to think of this as an act of terrorism – a natural act of terrorism.
We all know that terrorism can come in a lot of ways, but the most threatening, at least in my mind, is that which can come from an act which upsets and unwinds our infrastructure. something that is so complete that our very economy and way of life is threatened. Terrorism seeks to do its work by destroying what is vital for everyday life, and by instilling fear in those being terrorized. Hurricane Sandy seems to have done that.
Hurricane Sandy, like Hurricane Katrina, showed no mercy to its victims. Both storms went right to the heart of their targets’ infrastructures, causing people to lose everything. When one looks at the total destruction on the Eastern seaboard, and remembers back to what New Orleans and places like Pas Christian, Mississippi were like after Katrina, it is easy to see how the goal of the storm was met. People were left hopeless, distraught, and displaced. They were that way after Katrina and they are like that now, after Sandy. People bounce back…but they are never the same. Terrorist acts do that: they destroy what “was” and force us to do something new.
What if these storms are a warning, or a clarion call, for the United States to become aware that we are NOT the same as we were before 911? What if these storms are saying to us that we have to create a new reality, live within a new caution and awareness, so that we are not walloped again like we have been? Every time I fly, I moan at the screening we have to go through as a result of 911, but I also realize that we in America have to accept that things are not the same here as they were and will never be. It feels like we need to begin to accept the new reality that is before us and begin to act in different ways.
Before 911 and these storms, it seems like we were almost smug in our comfort. We had never been attacked. We heaped destruction on other countries in the World Wars, but we had never experienced that. We felt really safe and protected.
But with new technology, which is so powerful, and nations around the world which do not like us, we are not so safe anymore. All a nation has to do is figure out how to upset our infrastructure, and the reality we know even now will be forever gone.
I have heard it said that to fix infrastructure, like New York‘s 108-year-old subway system, is too expensive …yet, in the wake of this horrible storm, Hurricane Irene last year, and Hurricane Katrina before that, can we really afford to use expense as an excuse not to improve our infrastructure so as to protect our nation?
It is said that when bad things happen, it’s not so bad; bad things are “lessons” for us. I don’t think we are supposed to try to “get back to normal.” I think we are supposed to think about what our “new normal” looks like, and work to make it happen.
We have a good percentage of America that is severely traumatized by this hurricane. They are going “back” to nothing. Their homes are gone, their mementos are gone. For some, their loved ones are gone…because of this act of terrorism called Hurricane Sandy. They don’t have anywhere to go, some of them. Some people have resources to start over, but many do not. This country is not the same as it was, even a week ago.
It seems that we need to look at what has happened with different eyes and a new understanding, and with a determination to learn all the lessons we need in order to live in this “newness.” If we do not, Hurricane Sandy, who has danced blithely off into oblivion, will have had the last laugh. She doesn’t care what she did to our people, our country, our spirit, our hope …but we should.
A candid observation …