Along with marking the 11th happy birthday of my son, Kyle Joshua Bailey, reactions to Hurricane Sandy forced me to consider the difficult questions his birth posed more than a decade ago.
I'm also wondering if the reactions to that storm have God and Mother Nature shaking their heads.
A unique, deadly “Frankenstorm” called Hurricane Sandy hadn’t even jogged all the way up the East Coast before some preachers had declared it evidence of God’s wrath on our nation because we don’t hate gay people enough.
And scientists who have been quick to tell us that a freak, heavy snowstorm is not evidence against global warming – that it is a lone weather event – just as quickly declared Sandy was caused by man-made climate change.
None bothered to even wait on the death toll before reflexively retreating into their respective corners.
I have a simpler explanation about Sandy: We are not in control of everything in our own lives, let alone nature itself. We can affect nature and there’s good reason to believe we’ve helped to warm the planet in ways it otherwise would not have warmed.
We have screwed up in ways that have harmed the planet and ourselves in ways that are environmental and spiritual.
But there are certain things we simply can not control, no matter how much we love to pretend otherwise.
Kyle has been forcing me to contemplate such things for quite awhile. Because he was developing in his mother’s womb when the 9/11 attacks changed everything, I asked myself if it made sense to bring an innocent into a world in which horrible things happen in seemingly haphazard ways.
And since he was born, he’s been asking questions about God and science and good and evil.
He hasn’t gotten around to asking about Sandy just yet, though I suspect those questions are coming.
Is the odd route of Sandy so late in the hurricane season – with its merger with a cold front that includes snow and other things not usually associated with hurricanes – a result of man-made climate change?
Scientifically speaking, I don’t know that we can make that declaration. Climate, I’ve been told a thousand times, is not about one event. It is about the aggregate of evidence that takes years or decades, or even centuries to quantify.
Is this about God’s judgment? Such a view suggests God – an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving entity – is as petty as an immature dad who lashes out at the things he made and equipped them with the flaws those creations frequently put on display.
I know my answer is much less satisfying than blaming the homosexuals or believing scientists are prophets.
But it empowers us more than the other views, because it forces us to focus on what we can control – how we love, who we love, how hard we work, how much kindness we show – no matter if Sandy is God’s wrath, or Mother Nature’s.
We should always strive to be better stewards of what we’ve been given and to be better human beings.
Instead of getting caught up in unsolvable debates, we’d be better served to figure out what we can control and what we can’t – then act accordingly.
A good start would be trying to help those whom Sandy has harmed.
Contact ISSAC J. BAILEY at 626-0357, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter.com at @TSN_IssacBailey.