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DeVASTation: a play on words

The first thing that stood out to me as I pondered the word “devastation” is “VAST.”

It made me think of the vastness of devastation. And I think that’s part of what defines the word, it’s the vastness of the damage or loss. Whether by natural catastrophe or spoils of war, it’s something that either effects a large number of people or effects a small number of people in a very crucial way. It’s true that a single person can be devastated, and in that case it is the vastness of suffering or loss within that one person.

The next thing I noticed was the word “station.” It’s a place or way of being. It makes me think “well, we’re stuck here.” Devastation changes where you are, and you are going to be there for a while. Whether the devastation is internal or external, it takes time to recover. Your station is changed, your station is now this mess you’re standing in. Perhaps even your station in the sense of societal role is changed, like Amy’s father in “Little Dorrit.”

So then my mind wandered a little, and this is more of a play on the sound of the word. I thought, “De-vest-ation,” humorously imagining people having to remove their vests. But then I thought about “divest” as the inverse of “invest,” and another component of the word revealed itself.

I’ve always thought of community as the antithesis of crime. When you love your home, or your community, you wouldn’t steal from it. You wouldn’t hurt the people there. You wouldn’t damage property. As far as human-caused devastation, I definitely think there is an aspect of divesting in your city, or your country, or your brothers and sisters of human kind. If people had a sense of investing in others, investing in their world, I feel there would be only building and solving problems, and no more destruction or violence. If leaders were busy investing in their people instead of reaping whatever benefits they can squeeze out of their position, there wouldn’t be corruption.

It’s more difficult to relate this play-on-sound to natural disasters, but there are ways in which we can invest in our world as to prevent them. Part of that is simply creating programs for predicting bad weather and taking precautions. We can certainly invest in the recovery process so that victims quickly and easily get back up on their feet. The other part is investing in our environment and the health of the planet. If the natural cycles of the world are “off balance,” than surely more natural disasters will occur.

And finally, I would like to move away from the seriousness of true devastation. There is real and terrible devastation in the world, and I don’t want to ignore that fact, but I do want to warn you I’m about to make a joke. Anyone can feel devastated whether it seems earned or not, whether they have lost anything at all, because it comes from being attached to certain things or people. You can feel devastated because you lost a DVD. You can feel devastated because you lost everything you own, or you can say, “Well, things are just things.”

So, not to undermine anyone’s suffering, but sometimes it is good to remember not to be a Diva.

That is all folks

-Becca