Sandy’s Lesson

Sandy's LessonThe uproars and thunders of hurricane Sandy, a category one colossal force of wind, have recently sparked a controversy. The aftermath of such a disaster has become a source of strong disputes and arguments among people with faith. Sandy left us in a deep state of shock and confusion and for most of us left us with heavy hearts and deep sadness. Through different ideologies and religions, people are trying to comprehend the mysterious phenomena of natural disasters.

Some people of faith believe it is a manifestation of God’s wrath and a form of punishment for our sinful behavior, atheists on the other hand argue it is just the rules of physics and natural cycle of life. In any case, natural disasters affect all of humanity indiscriminately regardless of religion, ideologies or wisdom.

Environmentalists believe it is the result of man-made pollution from industrialization and massive fuel emission contributing to climate change and global warming , which later resulted in tropical hurricanes and then havoc and destruction.

 Natural disasters on the other hand serve five main purposes that highlight our glorious humanity:

  1. Feeling the pain of the less fortunate is one of the most important lessons of Hurricane Sandy. Our daily indulgence in the comfort and pleasures of a luxury lifestyle made the expectation for the unpredictable almost non-existent, when Sandy blew its damaging winds on our towns, aspects of life were put to halt and left us with a feeling of disbelief and uncertainly. Even though conditions are temporary and will soon resume back to the normal of life, our inner conscience will never regain its sense of security. I couldn’t help but think of other people simultaneously suffering the same conditions, same insecurity, same uncertainty only not temporary but permanently, and more inflected with added aggression, atrocities, hunger and almost no homeland. While our suffering was quickly acknowledged, their suffering was hardly recognized.
  2. Bringing us back to our raw humility and real in-habitation we often take life for granted with all our wealth and abilities we consciously act as if we overcome life. We can control anything and everything yet when a disaster occurs, it is that one feeling that overwhelms all of us “helplessness” and later “worthlessness”.
  3. Diminishing all the misleading barriers of segregation and separation, it brings us all together, discrimination suddenly dissolves, all our differences become insignificant, if one person is injured in the course of the hurricane, it is an agony that everyone can identify with; color, race and ideology become all irrelevant .
  4. Unraveling the hero among us; philanthropists, faceless benefactors, nameless donors emerge and pour their charitable donations raising millions of dollars to help alleviate some of the victims pain and restore some of their losses. Islamic organizations like ISNA and Islamic Relief unreluctantly started raising funds and asking for volunteers to help work in crisis units and county shelters.
  5. Reinforcing our ability for resilience and resistance and guiding us through our physical and mental capabilities as to how to handle devastation, our motivation to rebuild and restore was suddenly renewed and a subtle glimpse of why we were brought to earth was genuinely declared.

Sometimes it takes a shaking earth, a roaring hurricane or a sweeping tsunami to get us reconnected with our common sense and remind us of our glorious humanity.

Faten Hafez

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