The storm that united a divided nation
No Holds Barred: As the storm approached I wondered what it all meant. I am a religious man and believe all to be providence.
Boats and flotsam washed up by Hurricane Sandy Photo: REUTERS
I’m sitting here with my kids and, aside from the glow of the laptop, the
Sabbath has come early this week. Outside Hurricane Sandy is pounding our New
Jersey town of Englewood. Earlier in the day we saw trees bend like twigs and
wind gusts tearing pieces of our roof clear off. This evening we said Psalms for
all the people of the Northeastern United States to be safe and studied the
Biblical portion of the day; appropriately, Abraham arguing with God to protect
the inhabitants of his area condemned to destruction through the
Just yesterday I was fully engaged in my campaign for the
United States Congress. Winning, elections and victory were on my mind. Boy,
what a difference a day can make. Today, I just want my family and the 50
million people in the storm’s path to be safe. We just read of a man of 30 who
lost his life when a tree fell on his house in Queens, New York. We’ve seen
photos of people’s homes blown away. In Manhattan, a giant crane dangles and
there is no telling whom it might hurt.
Does winning matter now? As the
storm approached I wondered what it all meant. I am a religious man and believe
all to be providence.
There are no coincidences. A freak storm, hitting
New Jersey of all places, in late October, is so rare as to seriously raise
eyebrows. And just a week before such momentous elections that will determine
the future of our nation and who will be our president? I cannot divine the mind
of God and we would all have been much better off without this storm. And while
by far the most important thing is for everyone to be safe, the storm’s arrival
does suddenly put everything in perspective.
For the past few months
America has been bitterly consumed by an election that has torn the country
asunder. To an extent it’s understandable. While the tone has been at times
quite negative, the stakes in this election are very high and the consequences
for whichever visions wins very great. It’s understandable that passions are so
Yet, along comes Frankenstorm, just days before the election, and
knocks everything about the election clear off TV, newspapers and the Internet.
Just try to find a candidate anywhere campaigning. President Obama and Governor
Romney have both suspended their campaigns. Our own efforts here in New Jersey
are focused on how we can help those who have most suffered in the storm. The
only thing that matters now is people’s safety and wellbeing.
there is no talk of Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, tax
cuts and entitlements. There are no attack ads and there are no advocacy ads.
All the talk is about protecting life, keeping people safe, and being there for
In my book that’s coming out next month, The Fed-Up Man of
Faith, I reject any belief that suffering is redemptive. I will not dignify
human suffering with some higher purpose. All suffering is awful and any good
that comes by its means could be achieved far more effectively through something
positive. Better there be no storms, better there be no danger. But to the
extent this awful thing is here, perhaps God, in His providence, is telling us
that unity is what life is all about and we’re just too darn
Yes, I would prefer that we come together in the wake of
something positive than negative. We don’t need hurricanes, we don’t need
9/11’s, we don’t need the murder of American ambassadors in Benghazi to remind
us that we’re one nation, one people, with one heart. Much better to unite
around a man walking on the moon, a space shuttle lifting off, and Americans
winning gold medals at the Olympics. Better to unite around inspirational
stories of diseases being cured, people in danger being rescued, children who
are hungry being fed.
But to the extent that our country is way too
divided, let’s internalize the message, just before one of the most partisan
elections of all time, that there is nothing in life as special as unity,
nothing more beloved by God than oneness among His children, nothing more
inspirational than differences being put aside as humanity unites to protect
Barack Obama rose to national prominence when he gave a speech
about there not being red states and blue states, but United States. George W.
Bush brought a nation together in the wake of 9/11 when he said that the people
who hurt our innocents would soon hear from us as a unified people. Mitt Romney
brought America together through the pride of the Salt Lake City winter
We are capable of being positive and unified, even while we
contest some of the great political issues of our day. We can be one people
while we entertain very different opinions. And we can have one heart even when
we have different minds.
May God watch over America always and may those
who have suffered in Hurricane Sandy find comfort and blessing.
writer is the Republican Candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth
Congressional District. The international best-selling author of 28 books, his
newest work is Kosher Jesus. Next month he will publish The Fed-Up Man of Faith:
Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. His website is