The hurricane and flooding in the south of Texas this past week have certainly been something to think about as we watch ordinary people go out of their way to help others and we see others not helping at all. Why is it that catastrophe brings out both the best and the worst in us humans? Floods, tornados, fires, mudslides, hurricanes and other natural disasters break down so many barriers and makes us review who we really are inside.
In difficult times, fancy homes, expensive cars, and STUFF take a back seat to helping others. And it should be that way. Too often in our daily lives we forget about others and rely on our STUFF to make us happy. We rely on our stuff to create a status for us that allows us to congregate with some while snubbing others – just because of our stuff. We often think that our STUFF is life and living.
A week ago, we came together to watch the solar eclipse. The best piece of advice all week – other than to have the appropriate glasses – was to put away the cameras and recording devices and experience the eclipse. Experience the change in light and temperature. Look up at the phenomenon in the sky. Forget about your STUFF for a moment or two. Congregate with others to share the experience. The solar eclipse was a once in a lifetime event for most and we were being encouraged to live it and share it with others because being there and living through the eclipse itself was so much more amazing than fiddling with a phone or camera and missing it all.
Stuff is cool but it is not life. We forget that sometimes. This week we are inundated with news about the hurricane and rains in Texas. I am from Texas and have family in the Houston area. I have friends/family there and some nearly there and some in the outlying areas who are taking part in the rescuing. I avidly watch the news outlets and have seen cowboys on horseback herding cattle and horses to safety. I saw a pastor swimming down his street looking into flooded cars for stragglers. I have seen boats floating up and down streets picking up people and transporting them to safety.
Donations of time and supplies are pouring in. Police departments, the military, the red cross are just a few who are rushing to the scene to help. Prayers are being said across the nation. Social media is working at its best in finding help for those who are stranded or can’t get through to 911. In short, we are living. We are cooperating with each other. We are helping those who need help.
Some have closed their doors and others have opened their doors. Some have been shamed for their actions and others have been praised for theirs. Either way, catastrophe is a grim decider of who we really are. Who is full of courage? Who is full of good will and grace? Who is all talk and no action? Who gives willingly and who has to be talked into it? Who is a natural leader and who shrinks back in the face of responsibility?
Through the past two weeks of great events – one fantastic and the other catastrophic – people have come together to celebrate and to commiserate. My one thought is why do we humans wait until there is an event to notice each other? Why are we so wrapped up in our consumption of goods that it takes a hurricane to make us meet our neighbor or open our doors to strangers? A few minutes in the work day peering at the sky might be just what we all need to relax and enjoy each other again. It worked last week during the solar eclipse. I did not see a single report on how much money was lost during the workday because people took fifteen minutes to go outside and observe the wonders of nature.
Instead of worrying about statues and monuments and dissecting every syllable that the president says, perhaps it is time to look around us, at the PEOPLE living around us, and smile and offer our friendship and pledge our help in times of crisis. Perhaps it is time to focus on people and forget our STUFF.
My prayers and thoughts go out to the people struggling in Texas this week and to the people rushing down there to help.