October 29, 2012
Well, that kind of depends, doesn’t it?
If you feel like you’re the victim – harmed by some situation that has a gaggle of human fingerprints all over it – your attorney will probably suggest an answer: everyone. Sue the whole bunch, and let a judge and jury decide whose insurance company will be forced to settle.
If you are a political figure – and a tragedy deemed avoidable happens while you’re in office – the answer for the responsibility question is clear: it’s someone else. Find someone in the pecking order who can be thrown under the bus with the least amount of fall-out, and name them as asleep-at-the-switch, or conspirator-in-chief.
There’s a fallback position that is of great relief: when something ominous has interrupted normalcy and reminded people of their actual size (small) and scope (minimal), they make the ultimate declaration: it was an Act of God.
If your language of choice or commerce is French, you’d call it a force majeure. If you’re working from the Latin, it might be deemed a vis major. Whatever dialect you process best, there are moments when something is on your radar screen that defies human finger-pointing: best to pack it up and get outta town, with haste. God is injecting Himself into the headlines.
My apologies to Sandy Olsson, my colleague who heads The Master’s Program for Women. Her name is now destined to be uttered in years to come, with natural disaster as the backdrop for the discussion. “Where were you, when Sandy hit?” will be parlor-talk after the cleanup crews have returned to their stations. The weather heads are having a tough time getting their points across today; superlatives – so often overused for mediocre occasions – are not making sufficient impact.
Bloomberg has closed subways and bridges; Christie has closed casinos and beaches. Candidates have closed rallies and campaign offices; Monday night football (San Francisco travels to Phoenix) won’t be directly affected, but 60 million people who might have spent the evening with pizza and friends will be sandbagging – or, evacuating – about the time the kick-off is in the air.
Talking heads who only know politics – boring in odd years; overbooked in even years – have found their place behind the meteorologists in the all news/all the time formats giving their predictions for next week’s impact-at-the-polls from this week’s impact-in-the-basement. What happened in Benghazi in September will take a backseat to what’s happening in Brooklyn for the next 72 hours. Something’s up…
Technically, we’re bracing for an Act of God. Sandy the tropical hurricane is headed into a mixer with an unnamed arctic system sweeping down the north; their combined punch is already deemed historic, and they have yet to embrace. Alone, they would have been irritating; together, they become destructive at minimum, and deadly at potential.
Some of my recipients won’t read this today: they’re on-the-move, following the directives issued by their local leaders. My Point of View will be part of the pile they’ll deal with – in their e-mail box – when they finally get back to normal, some days from now.
If you’re reading this within 24 hours of my before day-break moment – here at Starbucks, corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road in Dallas – the weather event won’t touch you directly, unless the plane for your flight was supposed to originate in the Northeast… and there is no inbound. The New York Stock Exchange is closed; the people in your East Coast database aren’t answering their phones; millions of kids in the mid-Atlantic won’t be scaring pets and begging candy on Wednesday. What’s left to do, if you’re not on the weather map?
Pray for God’s provision; for His protection; for His purposes. With an Act of God, best to call headquarters and talk to the Boss. What would He like us to know – about Him – as we’re reminded how small we are?
An Act of God
October 29, 2012