It’s been a week since Sandy started to rip up New Jersey and New York City, and it’ll be a long road to fix things. Places that have been “in my backyard” for many, many years have been shredded and rocked to pieces.
So for what it’s worth, I just can’t let this pass without comment, without saying out loud that my heart aches for the people hit hardest, who have lost everything, who have the unimaginably daunting task ahead of rebuilding.
I might also be experiencing a microcosm of “survivor guilt”. Yes, 90% of our inland town has been without power until yesterday, when it went to 50%. Yes, there are wires down, trees down, home and car damage. Clerks use flashlights to assess mostly empty grocery shelves. Gas stations are closing; those open had 4-hour gas lines; yesterday rationing began. Schools are closed. But our downtown is open and we are far, far more fortunate than those along the coast. (There is no comparison.) And on a more personal level, my little street was one of the 10% with power.
Pangs of something resembling guilt arise ~ although I know it was through no action of my own, just a stroke of luck. I also know that feeling bad for not suffering as much as someone else does not take away their strife. So I choose to be grateful, and share with friends in need.
Sandy’s not all that different from disasters in other parts of the world ~ the difference is the proximity to home; the similarity is a sense of one’s hands being tied. You see and hear about what’s happening. You feel terrible. You go about your business. Which sounds harsh ~ but I don’t think it’s so much insensitivity as it is a helplessness to “do” anything of significance combined with the natural urge towards “life”.
You can pray. You can offer soup cans. If you can get there, you can help at a shelter. If you have money, you can give that. But you are not going to house and feed thousands of people or put their memories in order or salvage their losses, and you are not going to fix the subway system. All your feelings of compassion have nowhere to go. Those feelings don’t fix the scale of broken things brought on by a natural disaster. But you wish they could.
I find it hard to look at some of the images, but one thing I can say is ~ the human spirit is indeed magnificent and strong. Bless the emergency units, the utility workers, the fireman, the police, the military, the animal rescue teams, local businesses and regular everyday people who’ve been helping in any way they can ~ and continued prayers that those who need help will be comforted.