Even in a world as jaded as ours, it has been a tough string of months. Sickening headlines from the hate-fueled world of white supremacy, continued incomprehensible police aggression, mind-boggling levels of drug-related violence and trafficking poisoning our streets.
And then came the crushing earthquakes--more than one. And devastating fires. And Harvey. Irma. Maria. All percolating their mounting anger a thousand miles offshore and then spewing death and destruction as if it were passing judgment on what we've become and the choices we've made.
I wonder if the world is trying to tell us something.
I think it is. You just have to know how to listen. And if you're careful, you'll hear a chorus.
There, searching atop the dangerously collapsed slabs and roughly hewn rubble, pressing forward while nearly submerged in the roiling floodwaters with arms held high and hands holding someone's furred friend, working dangerously close to countless downed power-lines, sooty-faced, soaked, scared, yet defiant and desperate to help, stands....us.
An orchestra of us, orchestrating hope, help, and redeeming humanity. A chorus of voices reminding us what it is to be human and lifting us up, sometimes literally, when we need it most.
A reminder that there is so much more quiet good in the world, in all of us, then there is deafening bad.
From natural disasters, I see unnatural levels of courage and hope. Even over the howling winds, I hear soul-repairing stories across the range of devastation, like these:
- A reporter in the midst of the Mexico City quake writes that she is "in awe of the solidarity of Mexicans" as she witnesses people rushing towards collapsed buildings, residents grabbing shovels to remove rubble, social media turning into a place to watch for signal flares from those still trapped, and citizens being turned away as volunteers because there were already more than enough. High magnitude earthquakes unearthing the magnitude of the human spirit.
- Post Irma, a visibly distressed Pam Brekke was in an Orlando Lowe's desperately searching for a generator to power her father's oxygen tank--a life or death endeavor for the congestive heart failure victim. Enter Ramon Santiago who gave his generator to Brekke as he stood in the checkout line to buy it. Santiago doesn't understand English and thought he was simply helping a distraught woman power her home. Only later when local news picked up the story would he learn the gravity of the situation. He'd later say through a translator, "Let's take this moment that we're all here for each other, helping each other out and extend it beyond the hurricane. This storm is going to be out of here and when it is, let's remember how we feel right now."
- Residents of an apartment complex in Houston formed a human chain to get a pregnant resident out of her flooded dwelling. Another human chain formed to help an elderly man trapped in his car (see stunning pic/tweet below).
- Schools opened up to shelter storm refugees. Cruise ships pulled into port to provide havens for the homeless. Mattress stores converted into a sleeping shelter.
- An online, grassroots phenomenon known as The Cajun Navy assembled--a coalition of boat owners with high clearance pickup trucks that raced along the Texas and Louisiana coast seeking to save stranded or dangerously trapped citizens.
- Celebrities leveraged their social status to help in ways big and small. JJ Watt raised tens of millions of relief dollars, Kenny Chesney set up an Irma foundation, Kristen Bell complimented the heavy relief lifting with a lighthearted touch, entertaining stranded senior citizens in a hotel lobby.
- From the horrific Portugal forest fires came people who staged daring rescues of children and the elderly, pulling them from their burning homes before seeking safety for themselves.
Are we a divided nation? Maybe. A sundered world? Perhaps.
But for now, for this weekend, while relief and recovery efforts in all shapes and forms continue, while we pray for the island of Puerto Rico and whichever land mass comes next in the path of nature's fury, I choose to reflect on the power of good in the human spirit.
I choose solidarity.