The past few weeks and months have been tough. On both a personal and national level. Personally, I’ve been dealing with what feels like the biblical plagues. It’s been two solid weeks of constant sickness round here. First, poison ivy. Then an unrelenting case of coxsackievirus (also known as hand, foot, and mouth disease). And then a stomach virus. And then the stomach virus spread. It’s been exhausting, and, I won’t lie, being the only healthy person in the house has driven me to my wits end. I just want to run away and be alone for a day. Or even a few hours. Somewhere where nobody needs me, and I can just enjoy the stillness and quiet.
Nationally, our society has been struggling open hatred and bigotry. That hate has spread to our private and personal lives through Facebook and Twitter and all the social media platforms that we use daily. Our feeds have been filled with pro-Trump and anti-Trump rants. We’ve seen endless photos and accounts of people who have been affected by the violence and hatred. Our country has literally been split in two over statues and monuments.
And then a hurricane hits, and the fourth largest city in the United States is under water. Not just a few inches, but FEET of water. Families have lost their homes and all that fills them. People have been stranded in their cars along highways with no where to go. Rescue teams have worked around the clock to save people from the rising water. The power is out, and the grocery store shelves are empty or sparse. Babies have no diapers and formula. The sick have no medicine. The elderly are alone and afraid. And, as the water rose, we saw the real America.
Random strangers with boats have been volunteering to rescue the stranded. Neighbors have turned out to help clear the debris as the waters start to subside. Donations of money and food and diapers and supplies have poured in from all over the country. People who voted for Trump are helping those who voted against him. Black people are helping white. White are helping black. No one is concerned with what religion people follow or political ideology they subscribe to. Rescuers and shelters don’t care about immigration status. All that matters is taking care of each other and ensuring that as many survive and thrive as possible.
Because THIS is the real America. Charlottesville and hate parades … that’s not us. Our response to emergencies and crisis reveals the true nature of our people. There will always be a vocal minority who reminds us of our not-so-finer moments, and there are times that that vocal minority seems like a majority. And sometimes that vocal minority is so loud it drowns out the real voice of America. The voice of compassion and tolerance. The voice of strength and understanding. But today, as the sun starts to shine in Houston once again, the true American spirit is revealed. It’s the helpers. It’s the rescuers. It’s the neighbors ignoring differences to save the stranded. It’s the churches and temples and mosques and furniture stores and arenas and homes that have opened their doors to take in those who have lost everything. It’s the strong arms of a soldier carrying an exhausted and terrified child to safety. It’s the countless Americans across the country, with no connection to Houston or the people who live there, who have sent money and supplies and prayers. This is America. THIS is us.
Are you looking for a way to help? Here are some opportunities:
The Houston Food Bank needs canned and dry goods, as well as cleaning supplies. Monetary donations are always welcome.
The Texas Diaper Bank is in need of donations.
Houston-area teachers will need a lot of help in the coming weeks to resupply their classrooms once the schools reopen.
The mayor has also set up a Hurricane Harvey relief fund.
And, as always, if you can, give blood. And prayers.