Shake earth, and at the presence be aghast Of him that ever was, and aye shall last, That glassy floods from rugged rocks can crush, And make soft rills from the fiery flint-stones gush.
-- Milton, Paradise Lost
Sandy isn’t an irruption of abnormality into a sane and sensible world; it is a reminder of what the world really is like. Human beings want to build lives that exclude what we can’t control — but we can’t.
Hurricane Sandy is many things; one of those things is a symbol. The day is coming for all of us when a storm enters our happy, busy lives and throws them into utter disarray. The job on which everything depends can disappear. That relationship that holds everything together can fall apart. The doctor can call and say the test results are not good. All of these things can happen to anybody; something like this will happen to us all.
Somewhere in the future, each of us has an inescapable appointment with irresistible force. For each one of us, the waters will someday rise, the winds spin out of control, the roof will come off the house and the power will go out for good. -- Walter Russell Mead, Nature And Nature's God
Our prayers are out to all those who live on the Atlantic Seaboard, all those within range of impact from Sandy's weather, and especially to the people of New Jersey, New York City, and Long Island.
This is going to be one of the worst natural disasters in US history, and while mercifully the loss of life is small, the devastation to homes and businesses, to trade and travel will be felt for years to come.
The people of those areas will rebuild; that's what people do in the wake of a disaster. But it should stay in our minds -- along with New Orleans, San Francisco, and the Dust Bowl and literally hundreds of other natural disasters that occur on a yearly basis and take thousands of lives but never achieve mythic status -- that we are not in control, that we are at best stewards of this Earth and not its master.