by David Abdel
Texas faced an unprecedented challenge this week. The snowstorm that bore down on our beloved state left many without heat, power and water. Still today, cities and towns across the state are struggling to recover. Impressively, the resilience of Texans was yet again demonstrated. Hurricanes, tornados, a pandemic and now a winter storm; Texas always forges onward. What I believe to be most important about this, and what I believe needs to be recognized, is how we do it.
The crisis at hand has once more brought out the best in us. The news reports often detailed the difficult conditions that we had to endure, highlighting the visually stimulating broken pipes, empty shelves and serviceless gas pumps. For every one of those stories though, I’ve seen a handful of instances where neighbors have come together to support one another. We have seen neighbors offer space in their homes, or provisions from their cabinet to one another. Large scale food and water distributions were conducted by charitable organizations and other entities. Electricians, plumbers, first responders and other utility personnel worked beyond overtime hours to service people as quickly and as best as possible. As has happened before, and undoubtedly will again, Texans worked to help Texans. At the surface, that is admirable and could be the takeaway, but there is something deeper to appreciate.
As neighborhood message boards began to fill up with pleas for help or offers of assistance, we never saw anyone ask “who did you vote for?”, “what faith do you serve?” or any other divisive qualifiers. By and large we cast aside our perceived differences and honed in on our shared humanity. The sight of someone in need, the empathy felt in that moment, caused people to abandon the tenets of modern, derisive society and revert to our most sincere, selfless selves. Innate to us is the joy in helping, in caring. It no longer mattered if you were a Democrat or Republican. The sermons you enjoy or ignore ceased to matter. The color of your skin was irrelevant. In this moment of need, you were human. As the polarizing of America seems to be pulling us further and further apart, it took devastation to center us again. I ask, can’t it remain this way?
Must we go back to criticising each other over elections, opinions and beliefs? Can we not just all agree that our humanity trumps affiliation? The hand we extend should be a grip to lift each other, not a fist to knock each other down. The common good has permeated the minds of millions over the last week, and I beg that you allow it to take root and grow. A return to civility, to decency, and to community could be the one true good that may come from this tragedy.
Lastly, for many this was the first time flirting with the edge of uncertainty, but for many of us, this is the way of life. Grappling with the ability to keep warm, keep the lights on, provide for a family on the absolute bare minimum is not the once in a lifetime disaster but the everyday struggle. Many have now learned that the struggle is, in fact, real. Please, seek ways to continue the philanthropic spirit you’ve employed this week. Allow altruism to persist in your daily affairs. Recognize that for so many, the hardship you suffered for a few days, is a lifestyle they must endure. Help your neighbors, in any way, in every way. We are all but one bad storm from the brink, be the lighthouse and not the crashing wave.