Words are difficult to come by after witnessing the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy. In the wake of that storm, it is hard to imagine the losses, suffering, and tragedies endured by so many along the east coast. Looking down the long path to the days and weeks and years to come, and the tremendous efforts to rebuild–and perhaps reconfigure–New York, it is tempting to harness the power of the cliches: New York, New Jersey, and all the areas affected by the storm will rebuild and be stronger and better than ever; Americans are resilient and come together to help each other in the face of tragedy.
The cliches may be true, though. There is something in the human heart that responds to the hard fate of another. Americans do know how to surmount great odds in the face of adversity. And New York City has always been a place of energy and creativity.
|New Yorkers, c. 1942. Marjory Collins. Library of Congress.|
New York City is a beacon. It is a location that exists in real space to be sure, but it also exists symbolically. It is a place where history has unfolded in dramatic and unexpected ways; a place where cultures and people intersect; a place where all is possible and anything goes.
New York is a city that never sleeps. And through that long, scary night when Sandy came onshore, the whole world was watching, praying; we did not sleep either. And now we too look up with you, New York, and hope that the lights will shine again.