Alas, it wasn’t a partridge. In Dallas, only a tornado could send a truck spiraling into a pear tree. As darkness fell on the 26th, many in this sprawling metroplex were terrorized by a rapid series of twisters that killed 11 people and damaged or destroyed 1,800 homes and buildings.
I happened to be at home late that afternoon (good/bad?) but that meant I could follow the TV news and stay somewhat prepared. I did take our dog for a walk but cut it short. The muddied light and eerie stillness urged us inside. Just before a tornado strikes, they say there’s a dead calm and then, in the distance, what sounds like a freight train. No freight train, only the piercing sound of the town’s tornado warning system. Three of us, plus the dog, were at home. I readied our safe room–an oversized coat closet that does questionable double-duty. As fate would have it, my suburb was untouched, and my family and far-flung friends were among the lucky ones. And what of the rest of year 2015?
By the twelfth month of this year, the world news sent to me:
- a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, by a husband & wife terrorist team leaves 14 dead
- coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris kill 130
- two wildfires in N. California destroy 61,000 acres and 1,400 homes in two days
- Russian plane departing Egypt for St. Petersburg explodes over the Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 on board, the suspected work of a terrorist bomb
- a stampede during a pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, kills 2,200+
- 38 tourists killed by terrorists at a beach resort in Tunisia
- 7.8 earthquake strikes Nepal killing 9,000+
- young white man welcomed into a meeting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C., opens fire and kills 9
- Somalian militants attack Garissa University in Kenya, killing 140+
- multiple beheadings by ISIS terrorists
- suicidal co-pilot crashes German passenger plane into the French Alps killing all 150 on board
- 3-day massacre by terrorists in Paris, first at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and later at a kosher grocery store, leaves 17 dead
Natural Disasters, Man-made Accidents, too many Terrorist Attacks. A downward spiral of doom and numbing sadness: why do we bother to go on? Art gives us hope. It’s why we rush to download Adele’s latest album or to watch good triumph over evil in the latest Star Wars movie. It’s why we’re transfixed inside the pages of a great novel like All the Light We Cannot See, or gaze in wonder at the new Frank Gehry-designed art museum in Paris, or laugh at the comedy of Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon. Art inspires and connects us. It gives us a reason to live another day, if only to see what human beings are capable of imagining and creating. And if we’re among the lucky ones, we do.