Home > Uncategorized > Thoughts on Sandy and What it All Means

Thoughts on Sandy and What it All Means

Right, then…

I posted this on my Facebook page the other day in regards to some people’s [negative] reaction to the New York City Marathon being cancelled:

I’m a runner. I know what it’s like to train for a marathon. I know that I would be unhappy if the event that I have trained for and spent a large sum of money getting to was cancelled. Yes, Bloomberg and NYRR handled this poorly – they could have cancelled the race a week ago, and spared a lot of people a large inconvenience. I get that. But fucking focus, people! Thousands of people have lost family members and homes, there’s little fuel to go around, water is scarce, police, fire, utility and sanitation workers are stretched thin. That the New York Marathon was cancelled is mice nuts compared to all of this. Not being able to run in a 26.2 mile circle is not the end of the world; losing your family, ass and fixtures might well be, for some.

I should know better than to be appalled at how self-involved some folks are being about this…yet, I am.

I am happy to say that as things are progressing, more and more people are coming out saying that cancelling the race was the right thing to do and runners are trying to help out since they’re there and all.

But the initial (and probably ongoing for some) self-involvement is indicative of a larger-scale problem.  As a society, we’re ignoring (or worse, denying) that things are changing.  Further, we cling to the status quo  “because it’s always been this way” or, worse “Because I don’t want to change.”

I don’t care where you stand on the global warming issue; the causality does not matter anymore.  One thing is undeniable:  Things are changing.  When I was growing up in the central San Joaquin Valley during the 70’s and 80’s, snow on the valley floor was unheard of.  In fact, my parents had a picture of the last memorable snow – in 1962.  Now, at least one day a year, there is a light dusting. 

Hurricanes are hitting in places they don’t normally hit with any magnitude.  Last winter was one of the warmest winters on record (behind 2000, 1999 and 1992).  While California still has the title of earthquake country, we’re now seeing them where they aren’t expected (like the East Coast). 

What this means is that we need to change.  Not necessarily our driving habits or what kind of light bulbs we use or shifting to re-usable grocery bags or worrying whether our food comes from the ground, a box or a plastic bag.  We need to change our expectations.

For decades (centuries?) we’ve viewed ourselves as the top of the evolutionary chain and masters of all.  When we were cold, we built a warm box to live in.  When the box was warm enough to make our food spoil, we built a box to keep food cold inside of our warm box.  When we didn’t like cold food, we built another warm box that allowed us to take our food out of a cold box – which was located inside of a warm box that was designed to keep us from being cold – and warm it up.  Don’t like the surge in the harbor?  We built tidal breaks.  Can’t catch fish off of the shore?  Build a pier and walk out to where the fish are.  Live in a flood area?  Build levees. 

We’ve done this so long and so well, when something like Hurricane Sandy (and before that, Katrina) comes along, we’re taken aback.  We have completely forgotten that Nature can hand us our ass at any given moment.  We live in areas that are prone to flooding, hurricanes, tornados, volcanoes, tidal surge, mudslides, fires, etc… and then we’re shocked when these things actually happen. 

But when it’s all over – after the shaking has stopped, after the fire is out, after the storm has blown over, after FEMA has gone about their normal business, what do we do?  We go right back and rebuild on the same exact spot.  Why?  Because we’re humans:  Top of the evolutionary food chain and masters of all. 

Things are normal for a while.  Then Nature spools up and hands us our ass again…and we go through the same cycle.  Because we cannot be asked to move or do something differently:  “But the views here are so great!,” or “I really must live in the city – it’s so vibrant!”, or “I like living away from the flatlanders – this is God’s country up here.”

Darwin stated – in so many words – that a species must adapt in order to survive.  As a species, we are showing a distinct inability to adapt…and that does not bode well.

Maybe it’s time for an agonizing appraisal of the situation.

  1. free penny press
    November 4, 2012 at 13:02

    It’s long past the time for blindfolds to come off and people to see what damage is being done to our environment. (we could discuss that topic for days)
    Mother Nature will always, and I do mean always wake us the hell up and give us a dose of cold, hard reality.
    (Been wondering where you have been)

    • November 4, 2012 at 16:58

      I’ve said in another post that when it’s man vs. Nature, Nature always wins. True, sometimes Nature gives us a pass, but that’s all that is – a pass.

      Thank you for wondering about me! 🙂 I’ve just been getting back into the groove of life, working a bit more with some projects (I do a combination of temp work and consulting, so the workload varies) and just livin’ it day to day! 🙂

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