Hurricane Sandy has been devastating to New York City. From 32 deaths and a crippled mass transit to burned out homes and an unimaginable $20 billion in damages, New York has been left staggering.
How do we deal with adversity? How do we respond to difficulties and misfortunes? Do we just take care of our own needs, staying safe and cozy indoors and taking advantage of the time to stay in? Or do we offer help to others? Do we reach out to others for help or to help them? Or, if we are victims of disaster, are we capable of receiving help, if needed?
Living in New York City, many people might have felt nothing like something as monstrous as Hurricane Sandy could ever happen to them. But no one plans on natural disasters. They seem to come out of nowhere. They can happen anytime and anywhere, and it raises the question: what do you do when hard times come upon you in a fell swoop?
I remember living downtown in NYC during the blackout. It was incredibly challenging. I remember having to climb up and down 25 flights of stairs to get to my apartment. We did not have power for three days. I realized how ill-prepared we were for this unexpected outage of electricity. I can’t help but also think about how in the face of Hurricane Sandy, so many people do not have stockpiles of food, water, flashlights, candles, batteries. How can we help them?
Which leads me to the decision to have the NYC Marathon on Sunday, November 4th. How can the city and the mayor possibly make that kind of a decision, when the folks in Staten Island who I saw on television a few nights ago, crying out for food, for people to pay attention to them. Where is FEMA? It was like watching the folks of New Orleans in the lower wards all over again. Does the Mayor think that it will bring money into the city by having the NYC Marathon, when folks need gas to get to their jobs, restaurants need food and power to be able to be up in business, people need showers, food and to keep warm.
Who knew that you need gas to run the generators they have for the NYC Marathon runners. Is this what is important now?
Who would have ever expected Republican Mayor New Jersey Chris Christie actually praise President for his on the stop attention to our devastation, and who would have thought Mayor Bloomberg would have said that President Obama is the best candidate to deal with global warming.
We are learning in a very harsh way of the interdependence of everything. Who knew that the crane that was on top of the building on W. 57th St. before Hurricane Sandy, could actually topple over and kill many people. (But fortunately it did not, but it’s still there.) Common sense you say, but who thinks about all of these things ahead of time.
Help does not need to be epic in scale. We can all do things big and small to bless and encourage and help our neighbors. For example, something as simple as the joy of children and Halloween lifted my spirits during these trying times. The children were given a Halloween party in my building and they came to trick or treat. Their joy and life encouraged everyone, and helped them to take their minds off what we were going to be in the middle of—the eye of the storm. Another example I can think of is that my sons called me during the eye of the storm. It was such a simple thing, but it made me feel so good to hear their voices. It felt good to know what was happening with my son who lives downtown and to know that he did not have power, so I would not worry if I could not get a hold of him.
Little things can sometimes be big things. Hurricanes are big, but they are not as big as the human heart. So no matter what comes our way, let us love big. Love really can change the world, one moment or gift at a time.