Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ordinary heroes

As the world knows, superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey and New York last Monday evening (29 Oct) with torrential rains, howling winds and widespread flooding. Lower Manhattan was plunged into darkness, with the Goldman Sachs tower shining defiantly in the stillness. In addition to loss of human life, "Sandy is estimated in early calculations to have caused damage of at least US$20 billion. Preliminary estimates of losses that include business interruption surpass US$50 billion, which, if confirmed, would make it the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history, behind only Hurricane Katrina." (quote from Wikipedia).

Just a year and a half ago, we were in Manhattan, New York, celebrating the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's location and remembering how 9/11 fit into our life back in 2001. We visited the Tribute WTC Visitor Centre and we were in awe at how 9/11 marshalled so many people to help and to pray and to hope.

Tragedy has struck again with this superstorm. There is widespread damage, destruction and grief. Inasmuch as I cannot truly put myself in the shoes of those affected, I know that there are people whom I hold dear, very dear, and I would be completely broken if they were ever taken from me. So my heart goes out to those people who have suffered and sustained loss. I am halfway around the world from the disaster but it moves me nonetheless.

I would like to rationalise these things, but I can't. Maybe there is no rationale for them, divine or otherwise. Still, I can't accept that something so devastating can be so meaningless. And so, I'm heartened to read reports like these: "A Hospital Flatlined: Inside the NYU Langone Medical Center Evacuation" showing us that tragedies can mobilise people to care for one another, to show kindness and selflessness. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. So perhaps, just perhaps, in a world that is becoming increasingly disconnected and impersonal, these tragedies serve to heal fissures and chasms among us, so that we remember not to focus on race, religion or status, but on humanity and kindness.

Let's send positive prayers and vibes.


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