The stories of bravery, compassion – heroism in the face of unimaginable adversity – have been captured by social media and more traditional TV coverage every minute of every day for the past week during Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The images are horrific and the devastation breath-taking, but the spirits of the people have become an inspiration to themselves and the rest of the country.
The generosity of Americans everywhere as cash donations pour in for the relief effort is amazing. The mobilization of individuals around the country volunteering to assist the rebuilding of neighborhoods that are drowning in record breaking rainfall which has caused dams to break and rivers to overflow is awesome and is a testament to the resilience of a unity that calls us to rise above the issues that divide us to celebrate our love and support for one another.
When helicopter rescuers drop a basket to save a family trapped on a roof, there is no discussion of race, transgender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation or economic disparity – there is only the simple act of human kindness that transcends our bitter differences. As my cousin Melissa says, that’s a happy thing.
According to the governor of Texas today, all 50 states have responded to the tragedy with offers for assistance, and all branches of the military were deployed to step in and do what they are trained to do in emergency situations. They stepped in and stepped up as did all local first responders from the counties and cities of the area in addition to those who arrived from neighboring states.
I really can’t imagine how long the recovery and rebuilding process will be nor can I imagine standing in long lines with my family waiting for the basics of food, water, clothing and a place to sleep…but I have seen the faces of people who have lost everything except each other in those long lines and while they are beginning to grasp their new reality of losses, they huddle together as a family to confront their uncertain future.
You see, I am a dreamer and a hopeless romantic about the good in people and when I see that good so evident this week in the midst of Hurricane Harvey, the sharp contrast of the images of the anger and hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia seem a little less permanent.
I share the optimism of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said:
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…
Our house stands today with our brothers and sisters across the country who struggle to unite, to comfort, to believe that goodness and kindness are the common values we cheer – the values that a hurricane named Harvey reminds us to celebrate this Labor Day weekend.
Be safe and strong.