Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Center Is Not Holding

The ceremony of innocence was long ago drowned, but Yeats was not imagining this much destruction, even as his beast slouched toward Bethlehem.

First numbing thoughts were of the sheer force of the water: the speed and sickening ruthlessness with which it pushed and drowned everything and all in its way like some crazed, insatiable water beast. The order of civilization’s control—-that cars neatly sit on roads and houses sit stately on land--- demolished as though we are devoid of all power, and our possessions mere matchbox cars and train set props.

Aching for the individual lives killed and hurt by this wrath of nature, washed away as though they were nothing more than twigs in a raging stream.

Admiring all the acts of courage and the ingenuity of the human survival instinct.

Now the nuclear threat, to the same people still in shock from the flood. Praying that the best minds in Japan, and those who have gone to help, can figure out how to contain this potential death for so many more.

Feeling safe. Is it all an illusion? While this was unfolding over the weekend, two close-at-home events helped to shatter further the veil of safety I try to believe in. And that’s besides the bus crash that killed 15 sleepy people returning home from Mohegan Sun.

The first was a strange attack by a Goth-clad 21 year old in my hometown of Massapequa Park. He jumped in front of a car, strapped with knives, and started banging on the car’s hood. He then ran back into his house as the woman called the police. This lead to arrival of multiple law enforcement responders, and before the incident was over, the 21 year-old was dead, as was a 40-year old, 12-year veteran of the force, the father of 2 small boys. A terrible tragedy for these lives. It’s a mess of finger pointing now. No one is writing much about the crazy 21 year who started it all.

The second news item was 1010 WINS saying that there have been more muggings on Broadway on the Upper West Side, in broad daylight. The assailants punch the victims in the face, then steal their money and cell phones. As I was walking on Saturday, I was hyper aware of my surroundings. Were all the victims unaware that they were about to be hit in the face?

Is “feeling safe” just the lie we tell ourselves so that we leave the apartment in the morning? The world doesn’t always feel this fragile, to use a word of Tom Watson’s that I like. But right now we are collectively in a raw zone. As they say, we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.


dorki said...

On thing that got me was the wall of water and grinding masses of cars, shattered buildings, and rubble that swept over pristine farmlands and livestock buildings. Not just the destruction of cities but the fouling of land and shattering of the farms of the area. This massive loss of lives, agriculture, and industry will be difficult to deal with. But the Japanese people are as bright and resilient as any in the world.
Lest we forget - the laws of nature always win.

M.A.Peel said...

dorki, a good point about the farmlands. Thank goodness the Japanese people are as resilient as you say.

Phyllis said...

actually the center has never "held" in the sense life has ever had any certainty. someone asked me to speculate how I'd feel about belief in a good God now if I were Japanese.....I replied that since I'd probably be Buddhist I'd understand that Life is Suffering and not blame this tragedy on a cruel (or non-existent) God......a belief I find strangely compelling at times like this.