There is something ruthlessly democratic about nature's fury. Rich and poor nations alike are reduced to their knees when she strikes.
The 8.9 earthquake and the resulting tsunami has left thousands dead in Japan's coastal regions. Signs of devastation - dead bodies, stunned survivors, fire, submerged cars like toys - are coming at us from all directions.
Our complacency is shaken to the core. Everyday we hear of innovations and discoveries, the monuments to man's ingenuity, and we bask in the wonder of it all. Then a primal force overturns what we call normal. We feel the terror and sense how helpless we are.
Natural calamities are occurring with more frequency and fury these days. Global warming has unleashed extremes. Fire and ice mingle to create horror and suffering, leaving us edgy. Is it coming our way, we ask? Already the Pacific tsunami has reached coastal California. The Crescent City harbor in Northern California has been wrecked, boats battered and freeways flooded.
Everything is connected, we learn in ecology 101. They certainly are. The flutter of a butterfly's wing can spawn a gale. The ferocious energy of wind on water can travel thousands of miles to snatch a family picnicking on a sun-splashed shore.
Sometimes we lose sight of our limitations. Sometimes hubris clouds our vision and we suffer from dangerous delusions. There is a balance that underlies the cosmos. When it is disturbed, through arrogance or negligence or plain foolishness, there is a terrible price to pay. The value of humility - perhaps that is what nature has been trying to teach us all along.