One of the things we've heard all of our lives is about how certain things are "a sign from God." I myself am even guilty of taking missed buses or a stubbed toe as some sort of supernatural warning. We've all made predictions based on something inconsequential and saying that it is ordained in the heavens to be such. Lately though, it's not so much small things that are captivating the attention of people as a sign from above.
Michele Bachmann (Can you tell how she's the final straw when I write something political?) recently said that the hurricane and earthquakes that have recently effected the eastern seaboard are God letting us know that he's displeased with the politicking that's taking place. She actually told a crowd in Orlando that "now it's time for an act of God and we're getting it." But of course, she's using it to grandstand. It's something all politicians of all stripes do, especially when he or she is falling in the polls.
For years, there have been numerous examples of not only religious extremists meddling in political affairs, but moreover religious extremists wanting to blame any natural disaster on whatever the cause may be. Rabbi Yehuda Levin recently announced in a video that the Virginia earthquake was due to the legalization of same sex marriage on the east coast. Although Rabbi Levin may appear to be a front runner, let us not forget about our christian friends. Pat Robertson blamed Hurricane Katrina on abortion and later blamed the earthquake in Haiti on a "pact with Satan." John Hagee, a well known and highly respected minister on the right famously stated that Katrina was God's wrath for Southern Decadence, a gay pride event in New Orleans. Clearly the years of practice have really placed the good reverends in a higher position of understanding, but maybe we can take something from what they're saying. The truth of the matter is that God is creating natural disasters to tell us to get our shit together and improve or repair the crumbling infrastructure we have or God will knock it all down to show us where we have failed.
I remember winters back in my hometown. There were times when school would close for a week because the wind chill was so low, you could not stand outside for more than five minutes without getting frostbitten. In Defiance, I think most people can tell you what Thundersnow is, if they haven't seen it. I remember listening with my brothers and sisters as they would announce school closures the night before because they knew how bad the weather was. Sometimes it wasn't even directly because of the weather that school closed. It had gotten so cold that the diesel used to run the buses had changed from a liquid to a gel.
Summers were no different. Without school, it most likely meant that there would just be some days where we would be in the basement waiting for the all clear after a tornado warning. The sky would change to yellow or pink, and even sometimes shades of green. My mother always told me that pink meant hail, green was a tornado, but she never had any idea about yellow.
The one constant among the natural disasters we faced growing up had one common point, we would almost always lose power. Sometimes it would last a day, but other times it meant that we were happy that Dad had kept his camp stove charged. It meant no going outside because we couldn't clean up after. This is not unusual though, as we did grow up in the middle of nowhere. This is something that we just learned to deal with.
However, my life since moving to a city hadn't changed much. There was still always a chance of losing all power in a natural disaster, but there would be times in Columbus where the campus side of High Street had power, but the public side didn't. (Ohio State had its own power plant.) Back in 2006, I remember that a good deal of the eastern half of the country was in a constant brownout stage for at least a day. I remember when the entire city lost power after Hurricane Ike. I had friends who went a week or more without power, and this was in central Ohio.
We have people in positions of power blaming imaginary beings for what's happening to us in the world today. People like Bachmann or Robertson may very well believe that this is some sort of divine retribution, but the bigger problem is the devastation that these disasters leave behind. The Eastern Coast got lucky this time that Irene wasn't as big of a disaster as it could have been. Although highly unlikely, we could use this latest disaster as a wake up call. There's no excuse for the state of our electrical grid among other infrastructure problems in the first world country we supposedly are. It's disappointing that this opportunity is being squandered by people who prefer to deal with imaginary beings than those directly effected.