Tornado Spring

The Midwest and Southern United States is geographically unique. Each year we are hit with severe storms. The land is flat and expansive, allowing for devastating winds. During the spring, when cold and warm air mix, the conditions are perfect for powerful tornadoes.

Nature proves stronger than civilization, dominating us each spring and summer. For as winter melts, one of the most formidable natural disasters wakes from its hibernation.

Lacking proper storm shelters, advance warning, and luck, people are killed in small communities across the country. Homes and businesses are demolished. Tornado season is inescapable, but I see a sort of virtue in it, in ourselves. When our neighbors lose everything, when we lose family and friends, it seems the best we  have is brought to the surface.

If only for a moment, we are able to experience what I call an "ideal" society. An ideal society is not one without difficulty, not one having conquered nature or even itself, but one where difficulty and pain is willingly and unconditionally shared by those strong enough to help those who have been hurt.

Not all of us have the means to help those devastated by recent tornado activity. We may not live close enough, have the money, or the time.

There are still things each of us can do that, though they may not have an immediate impact, will eventually flower into something transcending disaster. They are not physical, but mental and emotional. They are mindsets. A change of perspective.

Empathize with those who are hurt.

Appreciate those who help.

Never take life for granted. 

Sending our prayers and money will help, but what is most important  is that we share, if only in our own hearts, the burden others are facing. If we can at least do this, we will have done much more than we realize. Thoughts are our most powerful tools. Our minds are the wells from which actions spring forth.

Slowly we will change the world without lifting a finger or speaking a word. Yet after we have changed our minds, it will be easier for us to help others. The Red Cross will always be full, no one will lack for prayers, neighbors will rebuild, and though we will still face natural disasters, even when we have small personal disasters we will always have someone to turn to.

This is what I hope to someday see. We rise to the greatest challenges, but sometimes are apathetic to the smallest ones. Let these terrible disasters make us better able to cope with the ones we may not easily notice. Let's take care of each other when no one is watching, as we do the community that has lost families and homes, when all the world is watching our reaction.

This starts with remembering the 48 people who have died on Earth this year from tornadoes. 43 of them are right here at home. 5, no less important, far away. There will be more. We cannot prevent nature. But we can adapt and be better people despite disaster, and perhaps because of it.

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19 Responses to Tornado Spring

  1. Prayers for those who have perished.

  2. Nothing like adversity to bring out the best in people. Being in the tornado belt, though, you know these people will rebuild. Rebuilding should include a storm cellar under every building.

    1. There are basements throughout states like Iowa and Oklahoma. I don't know why these things don't exist in the South in states like Alabama. A simple, small storm room would only cost five or ten thousand dollars. A small price to pay. Maybe less, it doesn't have to be very large, just somewhere to sit for a few hours.

      But, the odds of being killed in a traffic accident or drowning are far higher than being killed by tornado activity. I think many have come to believe "it won't happen to me", and they're right, for in all likelihood it won't. But could.

  3. Hello.
    I've been following the devastation on the news. It's very sad & upsetting when stuff like this happens. You are right...we should ever take life for granted, because it can all be taken away in an instant.
    Poignant post J. R.
    Thanks for sharing.

    BTW, my blog address has changed, so you might want to update your bookmarks.

  4. Life is too short, too sweet, too precious to ever take for granted.
    Praying for all these people as they struggle to make sense of what has happened and to pull their lives back together. Praying for those who so unselfishly lend a hand.
    Beautiful, touching, and timely post, JR.

    1. Thank you very much, Martha. I can imagine the "railroaded" feeling they must feel now.

  5. J.R., you are so very right, I try to practice everyday. i learned a lot working with the public for all those years. Part of what I learned was "help" that is needed sometimes, is simply someone to say "you matter". We hear the disasters almost daily and it is impossible to help everywhere, but we can as you say, change our way of thinking to help everyday where we can. Even if it is just a smile. thank you for this post.

  6. I agree with you on your every point. We shouldn't take life for granted because one day it will end, just like all other things.

  7. Empathy is a powerful thing. We naturally apply it to all that we do not see as "other". The trick is to not see any living thing (at least human) as "other". During hard times (e.g. economy) it is natural for us to identify who we see as "our group" and not "other" and we put effort into aiding them and their needs. The trick is to learn how to prevent yourself seeing anyone as "other".

    (In the case described in the article it is slightly different as those displaying empathy are not themselves going through hard times).

    As you say, the worst situations can bring the best out of humans.
    I like your comments on changed minds will be followed by a changed world.

    1. Empathy is very important. I like how you link it to "oneness". I'm a big fan of both but haven't seen them in that light before.

  8. May God help all the victims. It is really a hard thing. Life is so precious and at any moment, anything can happen. Definitely, natural disasters like these should change our perspectives of what is really important in life!

  9. Two lines really stood out to me in this article: "Our minds are the wells from which actions spring forth." and "We cannot prevent nature. But we can adapt and be better people despite disaster, and perhaps because of it."

    A change in perspective can make all the difference in the world in how people process events, like natural disasters, and in turn how they respond to them. For sure a change within always brings a change about on the exterior of oneself. I think one tool that would be instrumental in cultivating and eliciting a greater awareness towards the plight of others and compassion is meditating. It gives me hope when I read articles about how prison inmates, even some schools, are teaching others about mindfulness. If that becomes practiced more widely I think that could have a dramatic impact on society for the better.

    1. Yes. Yes. Yes!

      I meditated today and it really chilled me out. Now I love everything. It's like hitting the reset button the mind, and the natural state of human beings is love and compassion. Anger, hate, bitterness, these are emotions drilled into us from birth by people who were led astray.

  10. We go through the same problems whenever the Monsoon season hits the Philippines.. Heavy downpour and angry winds often cause flood, landslides and of course, diseases and death.

    "Empathize with those who are hurt. Appreciate those who help. Never take life for granted." I believe in these three lines you've shared. It's not all about the amount of money you give to help, but the thought that you feel and empathize with the people who are hurt by these disasters, that's already a big thing.

    Life is short.. and the world's getting unpredictable. We should live life to the fullest and never take anything for granted.

  11. Nice post. Thanks for sharing. I hope that preventative measures can be put in place soon. One thing that can be done which costs nothing is each individual take responsibility for their garbage and put it where it belongs instead of throwing it all over the streets, rivers, and everywhere else.


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