Can we please just skip the rest of 2020?
I’m not the only one who saw the first videos from Beirut Tuesday and immediately thought “nuke.” But the thought passed as quickly as the mushroom-shaped cloud itself — unlike the cloud that rose high over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. As a war baby, I grew up with that image seared in my mind, the image of something that must never, ever happen again. So seeing that familiar shape on Tuesday, even for just a split second, took my breath away.
Reports soon explained that the explosion occurred when a fire ignited an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer ingredient. That’s what Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. I was working five miles away from that explosion, and still our concrete-and-stone building shuddered. And McVeigh used “only” 2 tons of the stuff. Just a fraction of what rocked Beirut.
Covid-19, business shutdowns, bankruptcies, job losses, school closings, social isolation, ugly politics, civil unrest and violence, wildfires, hurricanes, Beirut explosion …
And we’re only two-thirds of the way through 2020.