Photo: CBS This Morning via YouTube
As the unfathomable images, videos, commentary about Hurricane Harvey continue to pour in from every media source, the reality of our frailty and vulnerability as humans stares back at us.
Mother nature can’t be tamed. She has a mind of her own and it is in her life force to be free. We are at her mercy.
Last week, pre-Harvey, images of protests, riots, beatings, tongue lashings, cyber ranting filled up screens on every media platform from dawn til dusk. The reality of our frailty and vulnerability as humans stared back at us—for different, yet also unfathomable, reasons.
The violence, hatred, vitriol a reminder that perhaps humanity can’t be tamed either.
Or can we?
Looking at the collateral beauty of the devastation in Houston, the everyday heroes, first responders. caring neighbors, Cajun Navy, loving citizens—people helping people—proves the opposite.
Our nature as human beings is also to be free—free to reach out and help another without restraint. Why? Because our truest self was created to love, to have compassion, to save a life if a life needs saving. In an instant we are capable of jumping into action without a single self-serving thought. In a split second, something inside us knows without a doubt what to do when another human is in danger. That something is to love them, help them, save them.
Photo: CBS This Morning via YouTube
We are wired to love at our core, and tragedy, disaster, trauma flips a switch inside us. It converts negative energy related to all things trivial, petty, fleeting, hurtful, and divisive into heartfelt focus on relationship to our fellow man. Connection and unity—our true life force—takes over. We put all things “me” aside for all things “you.” What a phenomenon.
Can you imagine if instead of instinctively helping our brothers and sisters in time of need we made a conscious choice to first evaluate whether the person was worthy of being saved? If we put their belief system, orientation, political alignment, race, religion, life choices, stance on hot button issues to the litmus test of our righteous idea of what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s acceptable and unacceptable, before the value of their life?
What if the beautiful people of Texas, before jumping in dangerous waters to save someone from drowning, harbored a divisive attitude and first asked the struggling person the following: Are you conservative or liberal? Who did you vote for? What’s your sexual orientation? What camp are you in on this particular issue? Do you support this group? How about that movement? Who do you worship? Are you a legal citizen? What’s your nationality? Do you do drugs? Did you have an abortion?
The answer to what happens if we pause for even a moment to ask these questions is imminent death. If not physical, emotional death is certain. I can’t bear to imagine the inner damage of being in a life threatening situation and asked questions to prove whether I was worthy of living–especially worthy as determined by my fellow man.
If we were to dig our heels further into righteousness and refuse to see a real life with a beating heart behind the labels we project on a person everyone could die. Or at best, only certain groups of people would survive. Feels like this is already happening on an emotional scale.
Thank God we aren’t wired this way in the depths of our soul. It’s not in our nature—at least during tragedy when trauma levels the playing field. Unspeakable terror causes the walls between us to become invisible. Lines in the sand blow away, and the anger, righteousness, arrogance, pain, resentment, bitterness, rage dissipates. Instantly. Well, at least in the immediate path of destruction. It won’t take you long to find a talking head removed from the situation who’s continuing to spout divisive rhetoric.
The question is why do we so often restrain our innate instinct to love outside of disaster? Why do we resist the urge to see past the false layers hiding the real heart of a person? Why do we choose to be the storm rather than the person who saves another from the storm?