The recent devastation from Sandy has brought a range of emotions from heartbreak and rage to deeds of heroism and extraordinary acts of kindness. As one of the most fortunate on the East Coast, my life went on relatively untouched by the storm; however I gained a great deal from observation.
What I saw amid the ruins were communities of people stripped of all non-essentials (and in many cases - essentials). In these darkened days what has came to light is that we have become a better version of ourselves. People are gracious and understanding, we are more patient and eager to help one another. Suddenly it doesn't matter if we are complete with our make-up or perfectly coiffed hair. When the street lights are out, we actually allow each other to take our appropriate turn at the stop sign while absent of honking horns or a finger rising. We have become more united in our shared destruction. What has evolved are a more compassionate people, less concerned for our own troubles and more caring of others. We are seeing that the less we have, the more stripped of our non-essentials, has made us a better version of ourselves.
How is it that we have come so far yet remain so distant that it takes a disaster to remind us of our humanity? Why must we be stripped of all the luxuries that surround us in order become better people?
The answer can only be found with a hard look inside our own hearts. Each of us must decide if we have buried our best selves under material things, under mindless greed so much so that we have stripped ourselves of our innate charity as human beings. Do we really need all the things we have designated as “essential” in our lives and if so, isn’t it possible those essentials are hiding our inner good? It’s a difficult question to ask of yourself; but one worth answering.
We can be our better selves, a better community of humanity without waiting for disaster to take a toll. We need only to ask ourselves the question and know that we are the only ones who can answer it.