Piece of Mind: Assembling a multi- piece gift puzzle

As surely as the East Coast braced last weekend for the onslaught of the hurricane with the once innocuous-sounding name of Sandy, registered voters across the nation know they can expect to be assaulted this weekend by last-minute political wrangling. No one is likely to die as a result of the pre-Election Day campaign blasts, unlike the losses sustained in states impacted by the storm; but some battering is likely to occur.

Sandy gave us all pause, though, didn't she? There were a couple of days this week when candidates who are in heated races focused on the most immediate task, which was lending a hand and encouraging words where they were most needed. Stumping was suspended and the divisiveness that is so very disheartening to all of us in the middle took a bit of a breather. Anything less than reaching out to assist others and to at least appear to row this big boat together would have been scandalous. Not unheard of, but truly disgraceful.

Every so often, in incidents large and small, we get a glimpse of our collective ability to put differences aside and to pull together as human beings. Such was the case in the immediate aftermath of Sandy. It would be fantastic if we could enjoy a longer afterglow, but human nature being what it is, we can probably expect backbiting and finger-pointing to return, maybe even before the end of today, all to advance the power of political parties and the special interests that toss piles of money their way.

Maybe I'm being too cynical. Yesterday I had lunch with a young friend, a writer who is gifted at soaking in all that's swirling about her and then articulating whatever conclusion she draws from the input. Seated at an outdoor dining table in the Town Center, we first compared notes on family and work, then jumped on the topic of Sandy and how we had both noted the refreshing restraint from politicking in the wake of the storm.

She opined that the devastating storm was perhaps a gift from the universe, despite its life-altering impacts on a sizable chunk of our nation. She suggested that maybe the present we received was an impetus to reboot and take a closer look at all that ails us, inside and out, then realize that we cannot continue to allow our government entities to remain polarized to the point of immobility.

“The universe is like your aunt who always wrapped your birthday present in some awful sort of paper,” my friend said. “Inside was a great gift, right?”

I'm seeing her point. Sandy was the wrapping paper. Now we need to assemble the multi-piece gift puzzle she obscured and see if we can't come up with a better union.

CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. Email her at carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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