“I couldn’t possibly know how often I fended, but whenever I saw the thick and black weather coming close, I fended and pushed it back behind the highest mountains, where no rooster caws, no farmhand mows, no oxen lies down, no flower blooms, so that nobody suffers any damage.”
This was the answer of the Tyrolean Christoph Gnoster zu Sexten when asked by a tribunal of the (not so) Holy Inquisition whether he used magic to influence the weather. Apparently, he was able to convince those witch-killers that he only used his powers to ward off bad weather, not create it. And since even they seemingly believed that this is possible, and okay as long as it serves the greater good, they released him with a warning.
Thousands of other weather witches, who were denunciated by fellow villagers with allegations like, “I saw a shoe sticking out of the clouds and I know it is the defendants shoe!” weren’t that lucky and ended up burning at the stake.
Am I saying that all that would have been needed to avoid the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma, is for some witch to boil water in a kettle at a crossroad, stirring it counter-clockwise with a hazel stick so the steam would counter the weather in creating a tornado? Well, as much as that’s what the wise women and men of old would have done – No, that’s not my point. My point is that so many insist on being ignorant about old knowledge, about what history teaches us.
Consider the Oklahoma land rush of 1889 (and the six others,) where would-be farmers grabbed land from the Native Americans to settle there. Nobody seemed to have asked the Natives why they didn’t hang out in that area more. It may have been less of a mad rush if people had known of Tornado Alley, and why Natives avoided that region in spring and summer. But hey, land was cheap, so what the hell. What is the wisdom of a few “wild ones” compared to the knowledge gained through enlightenment?
Talking about being cheap. A Moore city official said on NPR this morning, that building storm shelters in schools (a number of kids drowned under a collapsed roof in their school, because there was no storm shelter there) is not a smart request, because school projects are paid by town taxes, and home-owners in Oklahoma don’t like to pay taxes. And he said that you can’t put a dollar value on a child’s life, but you can put a dollar value on a storm shelter. Apparently, it’s too much!
Did I mention ignorance?