Even as someone who uses words to make a living, it is difficult to find the right words to describe the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. It is even tougher to express how it all makes me feel. In addition to a guttural sadness and sympathy for the people of Texas, I am often overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. I feel so incredibly removed from their unfortunate situation because, well, I am.
It is at times like these that I am reminded of the one thing that brings me comfort. That one beacon of hope for me (and more importantly, for the devastated people of Texas) is that we, as Americans, have a tried and true history of supporting each other in the most challenging of times.
If you look through our storied history, you’ll find countless examples of Americans uniting during both natural and man-made tragedies. You’ll discover thousands of stories of individuals and groups rising above their circumstances to help each other. Empathy, courage, and compassion abound. All this despite the distinct political and cultural differences that often separate us.
It is this last point that stands out to me. We are constantly referring to ourself as a divided nation. Given the current political climate, I believe that is an accurate statement. While there’s no need to rehash our many differences in this post, it is important to acknowledge that they exist.
Despite these differences, Americans have a seemingly endless reservoir of willingness to rise above and do what is necessary to help those who so desperately need it. We see it in the countless makeshift shelters in Texas. We see it in the tweets and Facebook posts of those who speak on behalf of others who cannot call out for help on their own. We see it in the urgency of the New York City firefighters who hop in their trucks and make their way to Texas.
These are just a few examples of the compassion, kindness, and goodwill that are aimed at Texas. Buildings, entire neighborhoods, and dozens of lives have been lost, but hope has not. As long as Americans continue to help each other, hope remains.