Today’s news is filled with the devastation and havoc caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Current estimates are that there at over 10,000 dead. Ten Thousand. That is a holy number. In the Tao Te Ching, 10,000 is meant to refer to something innumerable, too large to count. It is also a number about connectedness. Because it is so large, it is about everybody, every one of us. It touches each of us, intimately.
And yet the number is so large it that it also is risks distracting us from the true human impact. A single death is a tragedy, the dictator warned, a million deaths a statistic. Do not let the magnitude of this devastation, or its remoteness, strip from you the human element. Do not let the size of the trauma emasculate you with questions “what can I, one person, so far away, do?”
If there is poetic truth in the notion that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can stir hurricanes on the other side of the planet, what can the honest, vulnerable beating of a community of hearts stir? Reach out to your neighbor. Stop “doing” so much and walk around the lake with your husband or wife. With a vigor and conviction reserved for zealots, prove to the little children that their faith in people and belief in goodness is warranted! Visit your elderly neighbor, sit with her on her couch and listen to the same stories she’s told you 10,000 times before. And talk with your friends about ways that we can help. The winds in Tacloban have stopped howling. But the cries of the widows have not. They will continue long after the news crews have packed up their cameras and left. The world needs you to be strong and good and selfless. Keep being good for the world.