The speaker was trying to explain his investment advice by drawing an illustration from the aftermath of a hurricane. He said that after a hurricane rips through a neighborhood a typical reaction might be that you come out of the basement and look at your own home. You see it has been hardly damaged, say thanks, and look around the street. You see other houses standing, and the homeowners likewise thankful their houses are standing. But then everyone looks to the house at the end of the block and see that it is destroyed. You see the homeowners family standing there in shock, staring at the rubble which was their home. You go to comfort them and offer assistance. As time goes by, the destroyed home gets rebuilt and it is now as hurricane-proof as you can make a house. All of the “lucky” neighbors thought about doing something to “hurricane-proof” their own homes but didn’t follow through. So, he asked, if you were buying a house on that block which one would you buy?
His point related to investments: buy stock in funds which weathered the post-2008 financial “storms”. They are more “hurricane-proof” when another financial storm hits. All of the other sectors thought about taking steps to protect themselves, but in the end they stayed as they were, just as susceptible to major losses. I don’t know about that, but it sounded to me very much like the talk I hear about other parts of life. We have all heard of someone who dies “too young” leaving a young family behind. The typical response is, “I am going to start spending more time with my family” or “I am going to start taking better care of my health.” But, what do most of us do? Nothing different. That’s the “hurricane effect” I see so often. We see the devastating effects of life and death and we vow to build defenses against those effects, but, then, pretty soon, we are living our lives again as if there never was a “hurricane.” “The hurricane may affect the guy on the end of the block, but it won’t affect me.”
I see this in spiritual and religious life as well. How many people do we know, including ourselves, who say that “I know I need God in my life”; or, “I know I am better off when I am surrounded by a faith community”; or, “I need to devote more time to religious practices”, after some life-changing event which makes us aware of what a spiritually weak foundation we have in our lives. But, in no time at all we forget that promise to re-build our house on rock instead of sand, and we remain vulnerable to the very same storms of life that we were before. For centuries humans have heard the story of the wise and foolish builders, only to conclude it applied to someone else. So, today, why not read Matthew 8:24-27 and this time, really start re-building your life. Don’t fall victim to the hurricane effect.