"Public behavior is merely private character writ large"-Stephen Covey

Looking back upon lessons to be learned concerning Hurricane Sandy the following conclusion jumps to foreground. The collective character of the people, just as an individual’s character, is known by one’s actions.  Nothing shows the character of a nation or individual like adversity; for what credit is it to us when we do what’s right when everything is going our way?

So what can we learn about the character of our nation that has been showcased during our recent large-scale disasters? In the aftermath of two hurricanes, Katrina and Sandy, opportunistic looters ravaged the cities, breaking into shops and homes. Sometimes this occurred right in front of law enforcement, and shamefully, some members of law enforcement were even involved in the looting.

While those taking advantage of others do not represent the majority of people riding out the storm, these actions serve as the canary in the mine for us: a warning sign that as a  culture we are headed in the wrong direction. We can look over the Pacific Ocean for a recent contrast to our response in the recent tragedy in Japan. The world marveled at the stoicism and community response, the scarcity of looting or price-gouging, and lack of complaining as the Japanese pulled together, rolled up their sleeves, and quietly got to work. They stood calmly in orderly lines for hours for basic necessities such as drinking water, and if the water ran out before the line did, quickly and quietly dispersed without complaint.

No one incident can tally the total character of a culture or nation, but it can show us where our strengths, and more importantly our weaknesses, lie.  When looting takes root in a city it leaves a stain of shame upon its citizens.  Proverbs 14:34 reveals that character does matter to a nation: Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.

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