Saturday, January 21, 2012


Natural distastes occur more often than we would like and the impact they have is life changing. Catastrophes have an impact on us like nothing else. Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Tsunami in Japan and, closer to home, the recent tornado activity in Joplin, Missouri. I live in Joplin with my family.

We are incredibly lucky to have been just outside the path of destruction that destroyed more than 2,000 buildings on Sunday evening. Imagine losing everything and facing the prospect of starting over. That’s exactly what many people have to do. Some must absorb the untimely loss of loved ones. Many must face the daunting tasks of putting their lives back together.

It brings us all back to some basic and fundamental questions: What is life all about? What meaning and purpose can we bring to our lives. Why are we here? We search for answers in family, friends and perhaps religion. We understand there are forces in nature that can be overwhelming and even devastating. And yet the wonderful and amazing thing is that this very same devastation also brings out a remarkable quality in human nature. Just when support, compassion and optimism are desperately needed, suddenly, almost instantly, people rise to the occasion.

Good people, including those who are dealing with their own losses, find ways to help others with basic necessities. Neighbors are helping to clear away ruble and debris. Churches and volunteers are serving meals. The community is coming together with a spirit of love and genuine concern for others. The emotion is palpable.

Possessions (which once seemed so important) will be replaced. We are going to rebuild around what is really important. The resilience here is remarkable. The posting in spray paint on a completely totaled home on South Joplin Avenue says it all “We are OK. We love Joplin.”

- Optimist contributor Wes Morgan: originally posted May 25, 2011

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