I grew up in a small town 20 miles North of Montreal, so I am no stranger to rough weather. We are prepared for that in Canada. As kids we even used to pray for a huge snow storm so that school would be cancelled. But I can’t imagine for a second what it must be like watching the waters rise in Houston.
Harvey – Connecting People
Today there are such sophisticated tools to predict the weather so we should actually be so prepared for anything. Yet even though we are experienced with severe weather and disasters, and have vast means of communication and emergency equipment previous generations could have only dreamed of having, we are not properly prepared for Mother Nature’s rude awakenings.
Thousands of people’s lives will never be the same after this disaster of almost biblical proportions, and they are appreciating the most important things in life far more than usual. People who have lost their possessions are counting their blessings and are thankful that their family is safe.
If you went to Texas a week before the storm you would see everyone walking around like we all do nowadays – with our eyes glued to our smartphones. But when you look at the devastating images from the current disaster, not a lot of people are holding smartphones. Browsing through the images even gives you a warm feeling inside, because it is only at times like this that we truly come together and help our fellow man.
Just like people here in Israel, where I live, behave so much nicer to one another when there is an external threat, suddenly we are seeing incredible acts of selflessness and human compassion all over the affected region. It is easy to see how people pull together and cling to each other when they are threatened by a greater force. Unfortunately, we don’t see such behavior flourishing when everything is okay. Think about it. Most of the time we are self-absorbed and only looking out for ourselves. We only change our attitude when something really bad happens.
So how long will it last this time? Days or weeks while evacuees are taken to centers? Right now all the big stars and major corporations are suddenly donating millions, while regular people are contributing whatever they can to make the evacuees comfortable. And then, inevitably, life goes back to normal. The big brands will continue sucking everything out of our bank accounts and each of us will continue stocking up on far more food and other things than we actually need.
But imagine the kind of social life we could have if we were in “let’s help others” mode all the time, without nature giving us these rude awakenings every few years. What if we condition ourselves to behave this way all the time by continuously encouraging pro-social behavior? Does it have to take a natural disaster or a war to change human relations?
Different Perspective on Mother Nature
The wisdom of Kabbalah provides a thought-provoking perspective on this. It says that the whole of nature is interconnected, and our human relationships, too, are part of the natural system. Not only that, but they are an extremely influential part of the system, because unlike the still, vegetative and animate realms, humans have the ability to make a conscious change in their relationships.
Therefore, self-centered relationships in humanity don’t just affect humans directly. They also affect them indirectly, by rippling throughout all the levels of nature’s interconnected system and disrupting the delicate balance it maintains.
In the old days we were completely dependent on other humans for our very survival. Today you can communicate with the entire world from any device. A few minutes away from your house there is probably a gigantic supermarket with every possible type of food ready and packaged for you, and hundreds of restaurants to choose from. There are also pharmacies full of medicine and any type of garment or footwear you could possibly need is all in your immediate reach.
So what is left for us to do, in order to easily provide for every human need on the planet and create a sustainable society that is in balance with nature? We have to work consciously and systematically on changing our attitude to each other. And we could start moving in that direction without another painful reminder from nature.