Boston. West. China.
During the last week, we have seen evil, we have seen heroism and we have seen the human capacity for endurance.
It is so easy in our daily lives to forget that, in this connected world, we are all just a few degrees away from everyone else in our big, beautiful world. When the New Madrid earthquakes occurred in 1811, even though they were so severe that the Mississippi River had its flow changed, we didn't have the communication networks in place to get the news out to the rest of the world. Thus, even though the earthquake cracked sidewalks in Washington, D. C. and toppled chimneys in Maine, it still took weeks for the general population to realize what had happened.
By comparison, when the explosions occurred at the finish line of this year's Boston Marathon, news went out on the satellite news media, facebook, twitter, email and texts. Within minutes of the horrific event, people around the world were aware it had happened and joined the residents of Boston in their shock and disbelief. Within a week, the Boston story would play through to its logical conclusion as two brothers ran from police, leaving a trail of destruction and pain in their wake.
While the events in Boston were still unfolding, the explosion in West, Texas, occurred. Thanks to the availability of easily shared video, people around the world quickly realized that something catastrophic had occurred north of Waco, and people began responding immediately with assistance and support. The people in West finally had to ask everyone to back away a bit, as they no longer had storage space for the many gifts that had been sent for their relief.
And, before we had time to catch our breath, news came to us of a horrible earthquake in Sichuan province in China. An earthquake in the same area five years ago killed 90,000. Though less destructive, this quake was just as destructive to the lives of those in the region.
As this week begins, the disaster story that is topping the headlines is the flooding in the midwest of the United States. Rivers in the area, dealing with snowmelt and rains, are topping their banks as the deluge moves downstream. We will be seeing more on this situation during the next couple of weeks, unless other situations occur to distract us.
And, I suppose that's the thing that most bothers me. When the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812 occurred, or the San Francisco quake of 1901, they were such isolated incidents in our limited lives that we were able to take time to process the enormity of the situations and to let ourselves be focused on that one situation for a long period of time. In our modern lives, we are constantly bombarded with calamity and destruction. We have become so acclimated to the Katrinas, the Sandys, the tsunamis, the fires and the explosions, we simply switch channels and wait to see what will happen next.
There are variations to each situation that occurs. That variety holds our attention for a short while; but, eventually fades until something new comes into our world. I suppose its part of our complex reaction to an overload of too much information. We can only handle so much before our minds begin to shut down and seek an escape. After 9/11, we sought out opportunities to laugh again and to feel safe after such an invasion of our security and sanity. We spoke again and again about "getting back to normal," though we knew that the definition of "normal" would forever be changed.
My suggestion is to step away from the news when you can. I remember after 9/11, one of the most cathartic experiences I had was heading out into the middle of the country and allowing myself to simply enjoy my friends and my world. I allowed myself to realize that even though bad things occur in our world, it is full of good if we will just take the time to notice it. And, I realized that we have become so focused on all the world's bad events that we've forgotten how to keep things at a distance when we have no control over them.
And having that distance from such things allows me to know that, when horrors occur again, I'll be more equipped to respond in ways that are appropriate for the situation. I will deal with the things I can and allow others to do what they must do. And we will all make it through another day.
It’s all just my opinion.