Hurricane Ian left a trail of devastation that will take weeks to assess, years to repair, and who knows what new adversities will happen in the meantime. According to scientists, climate change likely did not cause Ian, but it did intensify it. Unless we implement far more fundamental instruments of correction, we had better prepare for much worse, since when nature speaks, we should listen.
The ferocity of storms is growing, wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense, and droughts are vanquishing rivers and lakes. The more we interfere with nature and disrupt it through wanton exploitation, the more we trigger aggressive and extreme phenomena.
In the wisdom of Kabbalah, “nature” is synonymous with “God.” This does not mean that we should bow down to the wind or the sun like the pagans did, but that we must understand that we are dealing with superior forces here, far stronger than we can ever be. Therefore, we should follow their directives rather than try to dominate them as if we were superior to them.
Their directive is simple: Stay balanced. Nature is telling us that we cannot take for ourselves more than we need because we create deficits that nature takes back with a vengeance. The more we take beyond our needs, the more intense is nature’s revenge. This is why natural disasters are growing more intense.
We should not deny ourselves of anything we need. However, we have become accustomed to getting not what we need, but what we want, and there is a big difference between what we need and what we want.
I believe that America as a country, and the American people, are resilient enough to come through the adversity and make the necessary changes. Florida will recover from the aftermath of Ian, but what happens beyond repairing the physical damage depends on the entire country.
America, the world champion in consumerism, should reroute and lead the world toward a new paradigm: more balanced and sustainable. The focus in the 21st century should shift from improving material life to improving social life. Our material needs have been met; now it is time to meet our emotional needs, and these will be met when we create a society where people enjoy living.
The only way to create an enjoyable society is to foster good connections among people. Consequently, if America can focus on mending the growing alienation among people, it will give people a sense of contentment. This, in turn, will reduce people’s focus on materialism, which will effortlessly curb excessive consumption. People will not feel dissatisfied since their satisfaction will come from social connections rather than material possessions.
There is no limit to the amount of social bonding that people can form; it is the ultimate sustainable resource. If we tap into it, we will find an abundance of power and joy in social connections. Then, instead of exploiting nature to try to satisfy our insatiable wants, we will naturally take only what we need, and direct our positive energies toward each other.
Aerial views at first light of neighborhoods damaged by the massive Category 4 Hurricane Ian, that pounded the west coast of Florida, September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida Credit: U.S. Coast Guard