In this year alone, we have been bombarded with disasters, reminded more so than in recent memory just how severe the havoc Mother Nature can wreak. No matter how advanced our technology or how modern our construction, it can all – as we so clearly now know – be gone in the blink of an eye, the break of a levee, the wash-over of a wave.
Just how many states of emergency can we manage at once? When does it become a state of chaos? When do we hear of so many disasters that we become desensitized to them?
Katrina and New Orleans are now infamous. The Gulf Coast region, from last summer’s repeated hurricanes battering Florida to the recent devastation stretching from Texas to Mississippi, is starting from scratch in many areas.
Across the globe it’s the same story: An estimated 54,000 are dead in Pakistan. Guatemala suffered severe damage and received little to no attention, buried under the earthquake stories. Southeast Asia is still recovering from last December’s tsunami.
Even when news analysts aren’t talking about disasters, they’re discussing the causes of the latest ones. Whether it’s global warming or just a fluke, Mother Nature’s wrath is all over the place.
Is it all our fault? Are we destroying our environment so terribly that this is nature’s retribution? No one knows for sure, but one only needs to look at the facts to see this as a possibility. For instance, hurricanes are caused by warm water and condensation in the air. Global warming has caused the ocean to rise in temperature one-tenth to one-half a degree every year.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been personally touched or known someone who has been, we’ve all been affected by the stories, the images, the grief, the racism, the violence, the death. We see it every day on talk shows and cable news channels: the stories of tragedy, heroism and grief. The shows may seem sincere, but what does it do to our mental state when we can’t turn off those scenes of destruction?
Trying to find the focus to write papers, cram for midterms, master a still new and foreign subject, is proving difficult for anyone who’s had a notion that maybe, just maybe, the world is falling apart.
We don’t have much to say this week other than take care of yourself and each other. We’re all coping with death and the overwhelming pain that stems from loss. Maybe do something a little extra for your neighbor or a friend who needs it, or do something to help the thousands of people dealing with these disasters on a first-hand basis. The best way to cope is to try and do something to fix the problem.