This is an intense and sometimes confusing time to live in America, especially in the immediate wake of both superstorm Sandy and the elections. I have been drawn to both the tragedy and servanthood that have emerged in places like Staten Island and elsewhere on the East Coast. I have been somewhat beleaguered by the passion and the vitriol of weeks leading up to Mr. Obama’s re-election as President of the United States. Both of these realities have been clearly beyond my control even though I have felt their impact. I know I am not alone in this.
It would be easy to pontificate of this in a number of ways. For example, do we really believe that global warming is not impacting our environment in destructive ways? Or, is government ever going to be equipped to truly care for the needs of its people–I mean, all the needs? (FEMA appears to have been a “no show” in Staten Island). Do the culture warriors really help this nation?–and this is aimed at both sides of the political spectrum. If sexual orientation continues as the forefront of the civil rights debate, what personal preference next will claim the hallowed platform earned so dearly by persons like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr? Can we really have Big Bird and still have funds for things like unemployment benefits and a national defense?
I am reminded that while most of the nation was focused on the election or on college football games or on the everyday business of doing business as usual, there were thousands of people in places like Staten Island who were struggling to survive amidst the garbage, cold, lack of fuel, and destroyed homes in the aftermath of Sandy. I watched the stories of people, particularly elderly people, essentially trapped in their apartments with intermittent power and lacking the basic physical capability of getting to the street and into lines for food and other assistance. These people were utterly dependent in the face on nonexistent social services upon others who looked beyond themselves to bring them the basic necessities of life.
I am gratified by the stories of people even a couple of states away, who were also without power, who hit the road for New York with gas-powered generators to help people pump out their houses or others who simply went into this disaster area simply to lend a hand to people who were engaged in the lonely task of digging out some remnant of their lives from homes that had been utterly destroyed. They helped move the junk and give a shoulder to cry on as people wept over what was not ever to be again.
Life matters and God bless those who look beyond their own need or political ideologies to help people people maintain some small quality of life.