Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Do You Have Power? by Morgan Mandel

The storm hit the Chicago area around 4pm on Thursday, August 23, changing many of our lives in the process. Sheets of rain hit, the wind roared. Trees that had lived for years, within a few short minutes came crashing down anywhere and everywhere, some onto buildings, some onto cars, many over electric lines. The volume of water was so great, it flooded streets and viaducts. Flowers and shrubs were mangled.

When the brunt of the storm had moved on, we were grateful to be alive.Thankfulness for survival then turned to practical, everyday matters. My husband and I watched the news in awe, marveling at the destruction accomplished in such a short period of time. We were the fortunate ones. We still had power. Or so we thought. That state changed overnight when at about 1:30 a.m. the refrigerator motor stopped running, the night light went out.

In the morning, I got ready for work as best I could in the semi-darkness, with only flashlights and the light from the window.A favorite topic of conversation on the train and everywhere else that day and over the weekend was, "Do you have power?" I can't tell you how many people asked that question and how many times I asked the question as well.

What does this have to do with writers, other than the fact that batteries on laptop computers only last about three hours?

Writers wield power. We weave worlds from our imagination for readers to enter, places they never would have known existed if it weren't for us. Our words spark emotions, make people happy or sad. We can make people reflect on issues and influence how they think.

Yes, we do have power. With that power comes awesome responsibility. Let's use it wisely.

Morgan Mandel

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