The Things That Truly Matter
It’s a good thing tornados don’t have names. Otherwise, we’d never get them out of our heads.
The folks in Moore, Okla., will have no trouble remembering the two-mile wide F-4 storm that blotted out the sun and for all intents and purposes destroyed their town like humans stepping on an ant hill.
The videos, photos and the sounds and stories from the people trying to find adequate words to describe what happened to them were indelible and overwhelming. For a time, and hopefully for some time to come, they will drown out the excitement-fueled chatter of the talking, tweeting, blogging and gossip and commentary classes about the scandal triads of the IRS, Benghazi, the Associated Press or the lottery winner or the engagement travails of Jennifer Aniston -- to say nothing of Jodi Arias.
Mother Nature is a teacher, although her lessons, while obvious, are almost always frightening exercises in tough love, detachment and fury. For all intents and purposes, Moore no longer exists as a functioning, recognizable suburban town outside of Oklahoma City, an urban pocket in the flat landscape of Oklahoma where tornados touch down with devastating regularity. Storms like these and their tragic results undermine certainty, the kind found in the voices and statements spoken with such regularity in Washington, D.C., about just about everything. This is the worst scandal since … fill in the blank and not since … fill in the blank. I wonder if the senators and representatives from Oklahoma will have such rock-solid certainty in their voices when they will, as they must, visit the piles of wreckage that were homes, hospitals, schools and neighborhoods, will find such certainty trying to describe their reactions to the disaster that visited their state.
I know and remember this area. My son was born in Oklahoma City, and I went to school for two years at the University of Oklahoma just south of there in Norman. Writing about sports for the local newspaper, I logged a lot of mileage traveling with a semi-pro baseball player on the kinds of back roads and through towns where tornados are regular and feared visitors, places like Choctaw and Muskogee, towns with Native-American names. I suspect in times like these it doesn’t matter much what party they belong to -- Democrats, Republicans or Tea or none of the previous. They belong to the party of the grieving, the shocked, the lost and hurt, the devastated, the party which doesn’t have an expert opinionated on “Meet the Press,” although the press will surely inundate their town armed with video and sympathy and air time.
I think perhaps politicians, elected officials, and the media and the policy nerds talk a little too much about things that nobody really talks about that much. Right about now, in terms of the United States government, Oklahomans will probably talk about the size of government, whether it is big enough, not only in resources but heart and determination, to keep the promises of speedy and enormous aid that are bound to be made.
All the rest is so much dribble and dross, looking small against the horribly transformed skyline of Moore, Okla