For the last few days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I have been hearing constant police sirens and fire engine horns throughout the days and evenings. These are sounds that in my neighborhood are usually reserved for when the local HS football team wins a big game and certainly not something that we hear on a regular basis.
Whenever I hear them now I am reminded of the Don Henley song and the refrain, “I hear the sirens wail. Somebody’s going to emergency. Somebody’s going to jail…” and I wonder what it is that is happening out there just blocks from where I live.
It has been a time for emergencies and sadly also a time for those who find opportunity in the misfortunes of others. I’m not sure how many of those sirens are for one or the other but I am pretty certain, judging by what I have seen and heard that most are of the help and rescue variety. And although it is unfortunate that so much grief and mayhem is taking place out there it is a comfort to see that man’s humanity towards mankind is winning the day.
People have been pulling together and working hard to help and sacrifice for others even though the stories of opportunistic thieves and looting scoundrels on boats and afoot seem to persist and haunt those good efforts.
It’s hard to know or understand why one person chooses one path or another, but we do make those choices. I think sometimes that no matter what we profess to be under the normal circumstances of every day life, it is in that unsuspecting moment of distress and despair, when we have our world threatened and our lives shattered or turned upside down, in that “New York minute” if you will, when we discover where are true selves reside.
When the waves of distress come crashing down, do what damage they may, then roll back out to sea, will they reveal within our hearts and minds a sense of empathy or of opportunity? Are these the times that try our souls…or not?
Why we choose to step to one side of morality or the other is both personal and perplexing. And is a question whose answer has eluded mankind for quite sometime… but I like to think that the angels of our better nature are ahead in the game and hopefully will someday move so far ahead that we will no longer need to wonder where it is we each stand when it comes to helping others who are less fortunate than ourselves nor will we need sirens or disasters to motivate us to show it.