Alright North Carolina, you are being called. Called to a higher purpose. Called to show how America is great! Called to the highest duty you can aspire to as an American without a war to contribute to. What is this call you ask? Why, to enter into panic about a possible natural disaster of course!
Now as Americans we have this well systematized. First: You are called to watch copious amounts of local news. The clown makeup, questionable tie choices and hairstyles giving a window into the styles of two decades ago tend to draw in those over 65 or looking for lottery numbers; the rest of us, not so much. But with Florence winding her merry way toward us, we can all find community again collectively watching the ill-suited buffoon that can never quite manage to point where they should be pointing on the weather graphic green screen. We can also find real meaning in that human interest story about the guy on the street that found the last sandbag for ten times its usual price, all to ensure his man-cave does not flood before the games this weekend. Watching the local news right now, ads for basement repair firms and the North Carolina education lottery are running full tilt alongside the local news: there is nothing more biologically fascinating than that particularly vicious American carrion feeder, the disaster profiteer vulture. Radar simulations of the hurricane and its path are on so often you could easily think they are the entertainment equivalent of the latest Marvel CGI spectacle.
Watching local news primes the second imperative. Weather has always been the banal go-to discussion topic for the English-speaking world. You are to make it the singular topic of discussion for the next week. You are also required to get on the phone to everyone you know that could be affected and discuss the pros and cons of staying or going, all of course speculating on a large amount of unknown information. You parents are required to call you worrying and counseling you as if the oncoming weather front is reducing you to the functioning capacity of a toddler. All discussion of art, culture, politics, religion, philosophy ... you know, the stuff we should be discussing in a college town, and particularly when death and disaster are near, should be even more repressed than usual as we discuss the largely futile specific human attempts to resist nature’s fury. There is nothing quite so inspiring as seeing people respond to possibly coming mortality with the nail gunning of plywood over cheap deck windows. Of course, the better analyses of how humanity is to spiritually cope with natural disaster are usually elaborations on “que sera, sera,” but what did Doris Day know?
And finally, don’t forget the real higher purpose of American life: go shopping. According to the news, the existential American paranoia of gasoline running out should have you running out to the Sheetz with gas cans right now, and while you are there, don’t forget to buy a double burger and Big Gulp soft drink; we all need to pack on (more) fat for the forced fast that may be coming! Infusing the quotidian tasks of purchasing bread and milk with the animal instinct to kill or be killed in a zero-sum raid on Walmart stirs the blood like nothing else. I mean, you always hated your fellow shoppers, but disaster panic puts some real visceral ooomph into it! You must also use this crisis as an excuse to buy stuff you would never, ever have need of unless you were to take that camping trip you have been promising yourself for the last five years but cannot seem to get around to. The dual-fuel lantern, sub-zero ready set of matching sleeping bags, cargo pallet of water purifier tablets, and supercharged propane stove you always wanted can no longer be denied by reason. It is your patriotic duty as an American disaster victim to purchase them.
Many modern philosophers have lamented the death of meaning in our present day. The death of God and loss of common purpose in America as well as so much of the West has left our lives drifting in an interminable ennui for far too long. That is why we should be thanking the fates as much as possible for these disasters. What common purpose, entertainment and excitement would we have without them? Now get out there, do your duty and beat your neighbor to death over that last loaf of artisan bread you have to hoard.