Today marks the 107th anniversary of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, which along with the ensuing fires eventually killed over 3,000 people and destroyed 30,000 buildings, including most of the city’s central business district.

At a time when we are still recovering from one nightmarish incident in Boston and beginning to absorb another in East Texas, it’s encouraging to remember how resolutely the people of a city brought to its knees by an unimaginable disaster responded and recovered. But’s it’s also important to remember how close we all remain, even in this post-modern age, to natural and unnatural violence that puts our routine worries and squabbles into a more appropriate perspective.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.