In a short span of a day or so, we have had in my town what we call a “heat wave day” (temperature exceeds 35 °C or 95 °F during daytime), a “tropical night” (temperature remains above 25 °C or 77 °F during nighttime), and a “guerilla rainstorm” (short and intense localized burst of rainfall, often in the evening and associated with a large drop in temperature).
It has been some time since I have returned to my homeland, but having spent my formative years in a place where it is winter half the year, I am still unable to adjust to this hot, humid, and hyper-wet weather. My family and friends jokingly call me “polar bear” and refer to my extreme inactivity and unwillingness to come out of my home in response to these harsh conditions as “aestivation (like hibernation, but in summer)”… so well put!
But I am finding out that I am not the only one having difficulty acclimatizing. They are not “polar bears” like me, but they say the weather seems to be getting increasingly unusual every year – it feels like we are having more and more atypical, irregular, and unpredictable conditions. They are just as confused as I am about these changes, and scrambling just as hard to find solutions on surviving through them.
And if I broaden my view, it is not just MY people, and not just people of the PRESENT, who are trying to figure out how to weather the weather. I hear of news about climate change around the world, and of past records of aberrant atmospheric states. So, even if I am experiencing a certain condition for the first time, I can refer to, compare with, and extrapolate from others’ experiences to derive my own solution to ride out the hard times.
Maybe there are some things you have to learn on your own, experiencing them firsthand.
But maybe there are some things you can only learn as a society, by sharing your experiences with one another.
And maybe just as when we are learning on our own, there is a learning curve when learning as a society.
Maybe there are bursts of great progress, but maybe there are also long periods of plateauing.
Maybe when we are stuck at these plateaus, we will feel like we will never get a break-through and we have reached the limits of our capacity to learn.
With regard to weather, people across culture and over time have collectively and continuously improved observation and forecasting techniques to come up with more refined ways to save and protect ourselves from the many troubles it causes. There may never come a day we get it completely under our control, but I am sure we will always strive to gain deeper understanding of it and learn to live with it better.
Maybe just as when we are learning to handle natural disasters, diligence and perseverance are necessary when learning to handle man-made disasters.
Maybe we as a society are at a plateau of a learning curve on peace and security.
But maybe by continuing to educate ourselves through sharing of experiences with one another, we will find a break-through and progress to a new level of world harmony.
Maybe this is one continuous education programme we ought to enroll in as a society.
A last note: E.W., a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winning author, you once said you were not sure if the world has learned… maybe we have not yet learned fully, but I believe your experiences had a lot to teach us and we will continue to learn to one day bring ourselves together. Please tell your father that when you see him up there.