With all due respect to those of you out there named Sandy, the destruction of hurricane Sandy and the trauma of the Sandy Hook shootings cause me to think maybe “Sandy” should become a word to embrace. The “spirit of Sandy” should be a call to action in defiance of the odds, a motivation to make fundamental changes to our world to make it a better place.
“Sandy” may seem like a nominal link between two tragedies, best left unnoticed. I disagree, I propose to turn it into a word of change and transformation. For example, the “spirit of Sandy” is seen in the actions of Sandy Hook teacher Vicki Soto, who died while trying to save her students from the crazed killer. She had told friends the day before she loved her 16 “angels.” On the day of the killing she hid them in the closets and told the gunman her kids were having class in the gym. He shot and killed her. Her angels survived.
These tragedies point to two issues that threaten our children’s future: climate change and violence. I’m not ready to make Sandy Hook primarily about guns. Yes, our level of gun violence is so much higher than any other industrialized state that anyone saying guns aren’t a cause can’t be taken seriously. We also have high levels of accidental gun death, recently I read about a three year old shooting himself.
Yet here in Maine we have lots and lots of guns. We are very safe. If I forget to lock the door, I don’t worry. If I see a guy with a rifle walking along the road, chances are he’s clothed in orange and looking for deer or whatever is in season. It’s about the kind of weapons available, and also about mental health, our culture, and our attitudes. To turn this into a question of gun control is to belittle it. We need to look more fully at what kind of society we have become.
We need to embrace the spirit of Sandy. (Hey, Steven Colbert started a word with Truthiness, maybe I can do this with “the spirit of Sandy”!) Ask difficult questions, change course, try to bring our culture to a better place. Compromise on gun control, improve mental health awareness and support, and display the “spirit of Sandy” with acts of kindness.
Hurricane Sandy needs to open our eyes to the real problem of climate change. There is every reason to do something. While the US has dithered, the Europeans have not only met the Kyoto Accord targets, but proved that it not only didn’t hurt their economy to do so, but it gave them a leap forward on green technology.
Climate change is real. Islands in the South Pacific are sinking, some are signing agreements for population transfers in the coming years. Yet in the US big money wants to try to obfuscate, hide the science, raise questions, and stymie political action.
Sandy must mean courage – we need the “spirit of Sandy” to recognize that the world we give our children requires on making wise and courageous judgments today.
The “spirit of Sandy” must entail the courage to confront issues that were deemed too hard or controversial. Not to choose the path of least resistance, but the path of change and transformation.
We’re on the edge of a new century. Technology is changing rapidly, our world is in motion. The problems that confront us can’t be solved with the old thinking of self interest, us vs. them, and fear of difference. The spirit of Sandy is to embrace new thinking: us with them, and an embrace of difference!
The tragedies that came in the latter half of 2012 don’t have to be seen as meaningless. These can awaken us to a better future. Change is difficult. Transformation requires sacrifice. But with the “spirit of Sandy” we can work towards a better future for our children.