Harvey, Houston and the beauty of humanity
Often throughout history, people have been united by tragedy. It is not ideal. Nor is it desired. But from tragic times have come glimpses of humanity’s absolute beauty.
For a brief moment in time, politics, race, religion, orientation, and identity are not dividing us. How you voted, or who you support is not on the forefront. The news is not riddled with screaming talking heads, debates, or finger pointing. For just a few days, maybe a week, we have found a beacon of hope inside literal darkness.
What is eye opening when something such as a hurricane of this magnitude makes landfall, is the complete devastation that it leaves in its path. Hurricane Harvey did not care about what the people of Texas looked like, how wealthy they were, if they received government benefits, served in the military, were addicted, saved lives, prayed to God, Allah, or something else. Harvey was not concerned with whom people shared their beds, whether they smoked, drank, or were sober. Harvey did not even care about your opinion on Climate Change. What people forget, and coincidentally what people should always remember, is that nature is a non-judgmental, unforgiven, relentless entity that will never let humanity’s divisions determine its destructive path. However, what nature cannot control, in spite of all its power, is the human will to survive.
Many will in fact forget this. A year, months, maybe even just weeks from now, we will once again be swarmed with all the anarchy we were subjected to prior to this week. It will come back full steam and forcefully take over many aspects of our lives. There will be those calling for impeachment of a President, just as there will be those calling for an NFL coach to be fired. We’ll hear about taxes, walls, and rights. Christmas will bombard us before Halloween, with some sliver of Thanksgiving thrown in there for five minutes before Black Friday. So, for a brief moment, we need to stop, breathe, and look inward. For it is times like this, moments in human history that are so rare, yet so defining, that if we blink, we will miss an opportunity for hope.
Hope came as some roads were being engulfed with water, while others were flooded with trucks pulling boats, tractor trailers full of food and supplies, and people going just to help however they can.
We have seen the images and videos. We have heard the stories. Black saving white. White saving black. Mosques housing Christians and Churches housing non-believers. Legal citizens helping illegals. And yes, even Mexico helping the United States.
What trumps borders, nationalities, skin colors, beliefs, and choice of lifestyles, is the ability of mankind to respond, to recover, and to rebuild. From watching towers fall, to waters rising, good people have always put aside all those reason for division and separation, just to make it as a civilization little longer on this planet.
However, not one day outside of when disaster strikes, do we collectively show our appreciation for how far we’ve come and what we are capable of doing. How easily we are distracted by the very things that are saving people’s lives now.
As I write this, people are using cell phones, that are typically used for everything but talking it seems, to call for help, as GPS devices to locate loved ones, and to receive important lifesaving information. Hundreds of drone owners/operators have made their way to the Houston area to help locate those who are stranded without putting other lives at risk. We are able to donate money with a couple of clicks. Through social media, which is ground zero for ignoring the world around us, now food collection and transportation operations have garnered ridiculous levels of support, that going door to door just could not have done. Our entertainers and athletes that we at times worship like Gods, have used their star power to raise millions of dollars to help now and in the future.
The point of all this is simple.
We do not deserve what we are currently witnessing. That may seem harsh but it is true. We were a nation ready to tear itself apart. Blinded by greed, hate and jealousy, all while living in our own little reality TV shows, only to open our eyes after thousands of lives were left in ruins. Some may argue that after certain shootings or terrorist attacks, we were united. To them, I’ll argue that a hashtag campaign or changing your Facebook picture to a nation’s flag is far from truly being united or empathetic. So, whether those helping now were always good people, or seeing others suffer finally brought them to this, we as modern-day Americans do not deserve such kindness. Such love.
But it is that underserving love that has kept us, and humanity from completely falling apart time after time. A small measure of love will always counterpoise the mass amounts of hate seen daily.
Next time it may be nature or possibly mankind itself, that brings a part of this nation or the world to its knees, but either way, we must not wait for that tragedy to see humanity’s beauty, when we can exhibit it every day of our lives.
So, I ask you, if you’re reading this, take a second each day going forward to reflect back to what we have seen over the past 72 hours. To carry a small piece of this with you, every day, everywhere you go.
Today we have seen the hands of all walks of life gripping those of their opposite, and together, they have pulled each other out of the darkness.
Cody is a part-time sports writer for the Times Observer.