The world didn’t end last weekend as predicted, but tornadoes have made the middle of America look as if it did. Devastation fills TV screens, making those safe at home aware of how fragile the daily existence we take for granted really is.
How do we reconcile going about our days as if we were safe and going to live forever with the knowledge deep in our bones that we walk on a thin crust of earth that could crack at any time and swallow us forever? How do we cope with the world without either becoming numb and indifferent or acting as though we could control it?
A tornado victim tells of lying in bed with his wife and seconds later finding her gone while his own life is spared. Others stare in wonder at rubble where their homes were minutes earlier. Even after we click the remote control, what they are feeling is in the room with us.
If Nature does not care whether we live or die, neither do the darker recesses of human minds. We learn that the gunman who shot Gaby Giffords and killed six others isn’t “competent to stand trial,” and our desire for an explanation or justice or revenge disappears with him behind the walls of an institution.