“…Again we ask that everyone please stay calm. There is no need for panic, distress or any sort of alarm. Emergency evacuation is already in place and the proper safety measures are being taken. Though destruction may be imminent, and calamity inevitable, we urge that you keep hope alive and trust the process; the system is infallible. Stay indoors, stock up on supplies, keep your families close, and may God have mercy on us.”
These words uttered on a radio broadcast, or television news bulletin, do little to dampen the already billowing fear within every man as a mad scramble ensues. Yet there are no shouts, shrieks or signs of terror, but silent activity and a solemn horror. All of a sudden there isn’t enough of anything at the house. All of a sudden God is real and we seek His Deliverance. All of a sudden we realise, that our walls can be breached, that there is a danger greater than man himself, and she is not to be trifled with. An eerie silence descends, and all is uncomfortably serene. A storm is coming.
History spins a tale of great woe, of man vs nature, of mortals ravaged by an insatiable foe, and through both fact and fiction, there can be no debate, that we have lost the war. Italy; August 24, 79; Vesuvius. China; January 23, 1556; Shaanxi. USA; August 23, 2005; Katrina. Casualties abound; soldiers lay slain, who never enlisted to fight or even knew of the battle into which they were thrown. None of us did. For who could have known, that Mother Earth, would suddenly spew fire and brimstone, that a tectonic shift would swallow up thousands of people, or that rains and fierce gales would pillage a city? We pay homage to our fallen, but also to the elements; for fear of desolation we indulge in perpetual penance.
We do not retaliate but defend. Yes, man has an enemy with whom he cannot contend. For the screams of past encounters and the horrors of the frontline haunt his conscience, like rabid dogs at his heels they bite and gnaw compelling obeisance. Despite our advances in the fields of ontology, epistemology, metaphysics and all branches of philosophy, we are yet to decipher the very nature of nature. All we can do is attempt to safeguard what we have. Protect and preserve while we count our losses. Prepare when the warning sounds and the alarm raises, and hope that our prayers are received with grace.
How much alike are man’s reactions when disasters are visited upon the earth, to our fragile souls when confronted with adversity? And how often do we cower in fear as the veritable volcanoes of our lives erupt in a frenzy vomiting fire and ash, polluting our psychological atmosphere? Yet, this battle does not require compliance but a plan of attack and stubborn defiance. “Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them?” Hamlet’s words ring true as a remedy to the problem, for the storms of the past have made of men, mewling, cowardly children.
Ye sons and daughters of the earth, ye titans of the soil and champions of wind and sea; know you not that your fire burns brightest in calamity? How foolish have you been, seeking shelter from turmoil and subjugated in the face of danger. While acts of God may necessitate surrender, our daily hardships should not bring us so low. In the days of old, victory belonged to he who weathered the storm. Men like Toussaint L’Overture, the Black Napoleon. Pain is real, at times crippling, and so too is tragedy. My heart is torn for those who have suffered without relief. But for this very reason I say the true catastrophe is when that white flag is hoisted high; where faith is dead; where there is no hope; no life.
So yes history does spin a tale of great woe, of man vs nature and of mortals ravaged by an insatiable foe, but the books of ancient times also tell of men and women who have fought the good fight and overcome tribulation. They are the slaves who broke their shackles and took hold of freedom, they are the impoverished who through the struggle improved their standard of living, they are the cancer survivors forever valiant in their cause and they are the gladiators, battling mental illness against all odds. I salute you brave souls. I lament the horrors you have encountered thus far, due to storms both natural and those faced behind closed doors. Fight on dear hearts, and give no quarter. Do it not for the “gram”, but your sons and daughters; generations that would thrive because you held to a principle:
That men should not fear the onslaught of the torrential shower, the crack of lightning, nor the howl of thunder; but kiss the rain, smile brighter than the heavens’ brilliant lustre, and unleash a fiercer roar than the gods themselves could muster; that men should dance, triumphantly, in the face of any storm.