The largest tornado in American history, which killed 125 and left the town of Joplin, Missouri in tatters, is the latest addition to the already long list of recent natural disasters. Man’s vulnerability and helplessness in the face of 200 miles per hour winds and earthquakes that register 8.9 on the richter scale has been on ample display, with thousands of lives being lost at nature’s hands.
It is hard not to dwell on the death toll and despair that is wrought by these unpredictable weather patterns and seismic phenomena — but the rubble and the wreckage don’t tell the whole story. The narrative would be incomplete without those people like Carrie Cusack, who despite happening to live in far-off Los Angeles is a very real personification of mankind’s selflessness.
In donating 100% of her profits from the sale of her mud pies to the victims of the Joplin tornado, she is but one example of the generosity that has surfaced in the wake of the disasters.
Additionally, countless volunteers to various causes, who show up day after day, sorting through the aftermath of catastrophe, epitomize the best of humanity.
The Fukushima 50 felt driven to work at the crippled nuclear reactors—but not for money, power, or fame. They had witnessed the decimation of property and life firsthand and understood that the forces of nature do not discriminate along the lines of wealth, social status, or seniority. They watched the Earth’s destructiveness create a new, level, playing field that shattered the barriers of race, religion, and political partisanship. Their battle to plug the radiation leaks is a testimony to human endurance, perseverance, and sacrifice.
Through the rising tides, the twisters, and the relentless storms, stranger helping stranger has become the norm rather than the exception. Men have risen to the challenge of rebuilding and rehabilitating by coming together — one for all and all for one would not be a stretch. Ironically, it often takes nature’s worst to bring out man’s best.
The stories of unified acts of good will, where the common good trumps personal glory, abound. Each one showcases selflessness, compassion and an indomitable spirit worthy of a civilized society. As people deal with their losses and struggle to come to terms with their new reality, parochialism and plurality are replaced by sacrifice and selflessness, as terror and tension are replaced my courage and cooperation. It is these unique and irreplaceable components of humanity that ensure that no natural disaster will ever stifle the human spirit.