Trying to Grapple with political tragedy and the Windpocalypse

Attack on the Two Towers 09/11/2001

The attack on the two towers is a painful memory for many. I, having no connection to news and living in a small town at eight years old, heard the terrible news days after 9/11 itself. I was at daycare, a place soaked through with blissful ignorant innocence and then that ugly truth came into my young life. People can hate each other so much that they will blow each other up. A giant building, protecting thousands of people, will no longer retain its security when determined people seek to bomb it from the sky. The thing that affected me so much as a young child was knowing that people were so volatile. Growing up in a small town without satellite TV, I was always learning about world events when they were in the worst condition possible. This has also been the case for the recent attacks on Paris.

I’m still not sure I understand what exactly happened with the attacks, nor certainly why, but I know that living an effective existence requires that I recognize the hardships of the rest of the world rather than retreating into my bubble of finding happiness no matter what. Sometimes, to have the joy, we need to experience the hardship.

I first heard about the attacks through my pastor’s sermon about gentle kindness rather than extreme force of change. My pastor is always helping me to think of the people that we have ostracized from society, whether by their offensive and horrendous actions or by virtue of our “better” Christianity. He always makes me think about what it really means to be a Christian and treat people exactly as Jesus did. In mentioning the people involved in the attacks on Paris, Ryan included both sides of the war, especially with consideration for those on the Syrian side.

“I wonder why these people feel the need to do this. Why are these terrorists killing themselves? When I step away from ‘They’re just crazy idiot lunatics’ I think about how this is somebody’s son who was programmed a certain way and think they’re doing the right thing, so much so that they strap dynamite to them and blow themselves up in the name of God.”

-Ryan Miller, Branches Church

From an article by The Odyssey entitled “Hope Lights up Paris Even in the Darkness”. Distraught over the tragedy which befell Paris, countries around the world light up their monuments in support and love for the  “City of Love.”

It is this kind of influence that allows me to try to process such great tragedies. So many of us are behind France and that’s a beautiful thing to see around the country. I’m proud to be American and human during this time. Still, we so often throughout history have tended towards witch hunts. My hope is that, despite this world shaking event, we do not turn back to discrimination against Syrians and their neighboring countrymen. I hope that we can learn from the little lessons we were taught in high school history classes and realize that if history has taught us anything it’s that racism is ugly and causes more wars than it wins. Hating someone for the pigmentation of their skin or the country of their origin is not right.

In lieu of this post’s focus on humanity’s persevering kindness within adversity, I have to mention the Spokane “Windpocalypse” of 2015. This last week has left hundreds of thousands of people without power after a massive windstorm. Throughout the vast area of Spokane, the wind damage is clear.

This is a tree that fell right across the street from me, luckily it fell to the side, hitting only the grass below.

Trees have broken onto streets everywhere, their roots digging up sidewalks, their fallen carcasses lying in wait for every car who dares venture down a back road. I have lost power, not only at my apartment but at both of my workplaces! The only reason I am able to write this article is because I stayed at the house of an acquaintance, who lives in one of the pockets of power still available in Spokane.

A tree just a street down from me, unfortunately this caused greater damage, hitting a home and digging up the sidewalk. This kind of damage is rampant still throughout Spokane.

I am used to my entire town being out of power. I experienced this frequently in the wintertime when I lived in a small town. But 2,000 people and five businesses being out of power is easily fixed and easily worked around. Here, there are over 400,000 people, 350,000 of which lost power during the insanely unprecedented storm. “This is the largest crisis Avista has experienced in the company’s 126-year history,” Avista said in a news release.

A tree has snapped and fallen on a building.

Despite this, we are seeing that in the poststorm phase, people everywhere are offering their homes for a place to stay, businesses are providing food, heat and outlets and people are talking about the situation. That inspires me immensely. Having spent the last year taking the bus in the spread out city, I have had very few conversations with fellow riders. But, because of this citywide common experience, whole buses full of people affected carry on conversations. I look forward to having my own power back and have been inspired by the change in society because of the windstorm, and the attacks on Paris and for every time we face tragic and frustrating circumstances. I’m proud to be a human, a friend to strangers and an American. We’re learning that kindness should always trump alienation no matter who the person. And that’s beautiful, that’s what we’re supposed to stand for in the first place.

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Even as the power returns to Spokane, in the wake of its own disaster, a building is lit up in honor of France. (This is the view from the hotel room a stranger from my church paid for for me and my roommate to stay in. Yet another reason to see the good in humanity.)

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