“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
Charles Austin Beard, American Historian and Educator
Sometimes darkness brings out more darkness yet other times it brings out light. On Monday, October 29th, Hurricane Sandy, one of the fiercest storms to ever hit the East Coast, wreaked havoc on landscapes, homes, and business costing millions of dollars in damage. Lives were forever altered while some were taken leaving nothing but heartache and memories.
As I write this, 10 days after the storm hit, my daughters are still unable to return to school. Roads remain closed, many are still without power and gasoline and food are scarce. Truthfully, patience is growing thin. Most of us don’t realize just how reliant we are on certain things until we don’t have them anymore.
Born and raised in New Jersey, I have been walking around with a heavy heart these past few days. Seeing the popular Jersey Shore—where I have spent many happy times—ripped to nothing but shreds brings me to tears. It has also been very disheartening to see that the darkness caused by Hurricane Sandy has brought out the worst in some.
Yesterday a friend and I chatted over coffee. She was still without power and her daughter came over to spend the night. When I asked her how she was coping, she went on to tell me how insensitive some of her neighbors have been. Sadly, people have stolen generators and others have put their debris on someone else’s property.
In the local paper (The Star-Ledger), I read a commentary by Columnist Bob Braun. Braun tells the story about a cabbie named Claude Lazare who got stuck waiting on line for gasoline. Both the guy in front of him and the guy behind him pitched in and helped by pushing Lazare’s cab toward the gas pumps. As this was going on, a passerby motorist saw this as an opportunity to cut in line infuriating others and causing them to honk their horns and yell out obscenities.
My cousin, who lives in Staten Island, New York, told me looters literally came with shopping bags to take what little was left from abandoned stores and homes. However, while sometimes darkness brings out more darkness, more often it brings out the light. And what we need to remember is that good is stronger than evil. People are primarily good and this is what we need to focus on—not the bad. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with anguish in the midst of tragedy but if you really take the time to look, good will always prevail.
People around the world have donated generously to various Hurricane Sandy relief funds. But perhaps more important is the spread of true human kindness. Family helping family. Friends helping friends. Neighbors helping neighbors. And strangers helping strangers. Never has the true oneness of the human spirit been so apparent.
There is something to be said about Barbara Streisand’s popular song, “People,” which was written for the Broadway musical Funny Girl (1964) by Jule Styne, composer, and Bob Merrill, lyricist.
A feeling deep in your soul
Says you are half now you’re whole
No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People, people who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world.
I have learned many valuable lessons as a result of Hurricane Sandy. For one, the light of the true human spirit will never succumb to darkness. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that the challenges left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy are unprecedented. Referring to the recovery and rebuilding efforts, he assured everyone saying, “I want to be clear that this will be the longest phase of our recovery from this storm. I’m confident we can rebuild, that we will rebuild, and we’ll rebuild together.”
We can survive without electricity but we can never survive without each other. Apart we are weak. Together we are strong. As the song states, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.
To donate, please visit http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy . Thank you all so much.