"We all live in the South Bronx because that neighborhood is the unavoidable proof that American civilization can stop. It can stop literally right around the corner, and if it does nobody can do a thing about it. . . . " ~ Michael Ventura
It's the look that grabs you: that moment when a person first realizes that civilization can stop and what that means. There is no law that they can count on; community comes as luck may have it. Sometimes there is no luck at all. The machinery can and will turn against them – and hit hard.
Tiger Woods was on top of the world: handsome, successful, wealthy, at the top of his game. Then it served the purpose of the powers that be to put him through the ringer. It kept the crowd distracted. It served multiple purposes; most had nothing to do with Tiger. In a split second, all the media turned against him. Up was down, down was up. It was an exercise in raw power.
Now Tiger Woods realizes that he can swing a golf club, but no matter how well he plays golf and no matter what the facts are, some invisible force can decide arbitrarily what other people think and say about him, at the drop of the hat. He is powerless in the face of the storm. Watch Tiger speak to the press. The fright is still in his eyes. The proof that he is a champion is that he can still get up, play and win.
I hear that fright now when I talk with people in New York and on the East Coast. The voice that goes with the look. It was not just a storm. There was something else. Something more. This time it was not just one office complex. This time it was much bigger. Days without power reminds us what life can be like when civilization stops.
I once lived through a decade-long storm – one that got ugly, turned mean, got dug in. A few years into it, a fellow who used to work for the CIA in covert operations turned up and professed to give advice. He said when the storm hits, you need to let it roll over like a wave. I did not understand what he meant at first. I came to over time. It served me well.
Civilization is a power that each one of us carries in our heart. Preserve and nourish that power through the storm, then arise to rebuild when the storm passes.