Monday, August 29, 2011

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Monday, August 29th, 2011

The Eastern Seaboard of the United States battened down the hatches in the face of Hurricane Irene. Shop fronts were boarded up. The New York Subway system closed down. Until last night no one knew exactly what would transpire. For some there was a carnival atmosphere. Others, especially those responsible for the preservation of life, limb and infrastructure, had faces set in grim determination. A lot was at stake.

Recent history has seen examples of both the best and worst in human nature which have come out of natural disasters.

Storms can bring out the worst in human apathy, violence and greed. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina still causes tremendous soul-searching amongst Americans.

Similar events can have radically different results - they can produce a sense of solidarity and community.

Storms, earthquakes and other disasters remind us that we are small and limited creatures - that the risks to us are real here in our smallness. It's what most humans have had to live through for most of their history. Only recently have we been able to look though windows (or television screens) at the outside world.

When you're caught up in something big you have a choice of paths. One way of looking at others is that they are competitors and enemies. They occupy space you need to occupy. They eat the food you might want to eat.

There's another path, though. No matter how much you think humans are merely greedy organisms it's a path that is taken often. Jesus said "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul". In a crisis we may find ourselves surprisingly able to exercise good citizenship and abundant charity. There is something greater and more important than keeping our buildings intact and our own selves safe.

You end up hoping two things for those caught up in storms: first of all that the sandbags hold and the buildings aren't washed away - but also that the human spirit rises to the challenges and shows itself once more to be a beautiful and graceful thing.

An audio link is HERE for a limited time. TFTD begins at 1:23.30 - about halfway along the audio bar.