In Gowanda, a few years ago, we experienced a flood of proportions we rarely see. Tragically, two people lost their lives, others lost their homes, and some businesses suffered great financial loss.
I don't wish to make light of the losses of so many people, but when you consider the magnitude of our flood, with the natural disasters that happen around the world, and even around other parts of this country, our mishaps are minimal. We are as immune to hard hitting natural disasters as you can get anywhere in this world.
What a wonderful part of this great country we are fortunate to live in. I find it strange that people who live in areas that suffer seasonally from huge life threatening tragedies, will speak of Western New York as a poor place to live because we get snowstorms in the winter. Almost anywhere else in the country they have natural disasters causing damage that few snowstorms could compare to such as earthquakes, tornadoes, mudslides, immense forest fires, hurricanes and floods that wipe out vast areas. They are all life-threatening, home-destroying events that keep the news media busy around the nation. The worst our snowstorms do is make one possibly miss work once in as while. Yes, they can cause severe automobile accidents with loss of life. It can be dangerous driving in blizzard conditions; but that can often be avoided. The only real taxing problem we have in this state is just that, a taxing problem.
I remember as a youth when I spent time in other parts of the country, or in other countries, that on returning home in summer, I was reminded of how lush this part of the country was compared with many others. Perhaps some of it was induced simply by my joy at being home again, but it always seemed that everything here was more lush than elsewhere. The leaves on the trees were thicker, the trees were taller, the undergrowth was richer and denser. We seldom suffer hard droughts that can be the complete destruction of crops in some areas.
We have winters, but rarely, the harsh cold of North Dakota, Minnesota or Montana. We may have heat waves in summer, but we think 90 degrees is a heat wave. Many of us are quite able to survive nicely without air conditioners in our homes in the summer.
One great advantage we have over many parts of the country, which may prove more valuable than we realize, is an adequate water supply. I hope they never decide to build an aqueduct from Lake Superior to Arizona to flush the desert, so they can grow their own strawberries for breakfast. I am sure there are those who would like to, especially now when the feds would like a few projects to give someone a job. You can only twist nature so far out of shape without inviting catastrophe. You've got to let deserts be deserts and oceans be oceans. If they want fresh water in Death Valley, let them figure a more efficient way of desalination of the ocean; then the whole world could have all the water they want.
All I know is that I live in a spot of the world that is relatively free of practically all of the disasters that beset mankind, including heartless warlords that pillage for the sheer joy of it. For this I thank the good Lord. You and I have a better life than, ninety-nine percent of all of mankind throughout the history of the earth. Are we lucky, or what?
I sincerely hope that the progress of human life, stimulated by the freedoms allowed in the United States of America under the principles of the Constitution, can continue to grow the human condition. Here's hoping we can avoid getting under the thumbs of the "Washington, lords of our stability" who in their fumbling attempts at more government control, inhibit the natural progress of the human spirit to achieve its assigned place in the cosmos of existence. Amen, and may God continue to bless America!
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org