11/26/2012 10:54 am ET Updated Jan 20, 2013

Can We Really Stand Up to Mother Nature?

Arts and finance, media and style... You can find it all in New York. Indeed, one might say that New York City, for the past 200 years, has been the epicenter of modern culture. Perhaps that's why New Yorkers spew an "arrogant air" around them. It also spawns an attitude of superiority and invulnerability. And, in the wake of disasters, we talk as if we are uniquely able to handle such challenges, and get right back to work, as if nothing happened.

But, when will we get it? Indeed, the rest of the world looks at us, yes with some admiration, but also a degree of disdain for the lack of humility. Perhaps we have enough money and enough hands to rebuild, but where is the wisdom to help us determine what other choices we might make to protect ourselves from the consequences of our hubris. On an individual level, we are affected by the collective unconsciousness as well. New Yorkers aren't always allowed to cry the way others might. We need to be tough, show the rest of the world we are special. But there is no truth to that. Unfortunately, whether this behavior is learned or home grown, the overinflated pride, the supersized badge of honor that we wear, becomes a mask for the pain and suffering that we don't allow in, and in return, this denial inhibits us from really grieving and alienates those who do grieve. Our culture's inability to show humility and humbleness, even in the wake of the super-storms that struck us is quite remarkable.

Sure, on the street, there is plenty of compassion flowing at the moment. And a lot of pain is being aired that is quite real and is also touching. And, like you, I feel for those who have suffered unbearable loss. But we have seen this before. I am concerned because our leaders are talking almost entirely about rebuilding.

Is it simply coincidence that the two most "expensive" natural disasters of the last decade, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, happened to hit in the two most significant oil ports and energy centers in our country? I'm afraid that mother nature is not kidding, can't we see that? I am concerned that we'll crawl up in our denial shell one more time and head back to the restored beach as Governor Christie assures us will be back in time for next summer, and say and do nothing differently.

Mother nature is begging us to show her kindness and humility and surrender our will. We must learn from these events and not become harder, prouder and more detached, continuing our indifferent consumption of limited resources, building more homes by the rising sea. We must ask ourselves, what good is resiliency if our society is suffering? We must learn to live in a different way -- the way of the old men -- planting trees for the future, knowing we will not ourselves enjoy the shade. And, we must once again nurture the soil, water and air in which they grow.

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