I imagine those poor folk in Joplin must have thought the world was coming to an end. This New York Times panoramic view, with what remains of St. Johns Regional Medical center at the horizon, is breathtaking evidence of the extent of the destruction. Unimaginable. The images, as usual, speak louder than all the words that have been written; and the widely-played five minute video from the mini market, which I discovered posted in full length on the Huffingtion Post, evokes the horror of those few minutes even in utter darkness, with only momentary flashes of lightning to illuminate the scene. The voices document the anticipation, the chaotic arrival of the tornado itself, and the terrified aftermath.
Later this morning, I will be sending some money to one of the organizations aiding the victims. It's a small gesture of compassion, and as usual it feels inadequate to the enormity of the suffering. From a lecture visit to Drury University some years ago, I have friends in the neighboring city of Springfield. I heard from one of them yesterday, to say that he is planning to make the trip to Joplin as soon as it is permitted, to see what he can do to help. It's good neighbors like these that remind us of what is best in the human spirit. Sad that it sometimes takes tragedy to jolt us into our better selves. To paraphrase a famous utterance, "Today, we are all Missourians."