"Man has much more to fear from the passions of his fellow-creatures than from the convulsions of the elements."
--Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788)
"I feel like a Roman trapped inside the walls, waiting, defenseless, for the Goths to sack my city."Gibbon was writing of the folly of war. Comparing the "mischievous effects of an earthquake or ... a hurricane or the eruption of a volcano," he observed that these bear "a very inconsiderable proportion to the ordinary calamities" caused by mankind's uglier passions for money, power, and violence.
-- Friend on Pensacola Beach, Sunday, May 2
Five of us gathered yesterday on Pensacola Beach, feeling much as one of our friends described -- like Roman citizens who are utterly powerless to stop the Gothic onslaught. We were standing in front of The Dock at Casino Beach, weirdly assailed by upbeat music from one side and Nature's pounding surf on the other.
Our small, glum group had come for what we believe may be the last time, for many years to come, when we can taste the best seafood the Gulf of Mexico has to offer, see the pure white sand and clean surf of Pensacola Beach, and commiserate with others feeling the same pain. As we wandered the beach we met a number of others from the Pensacola area who had made the same trek.
As more than one of them said, the mood was one of impending doom. Many of these fellow sufferers wept as they talked with us. We wept with them.