I am thankful for Harvey. Dare I say that out loud? No, I’m not thankful for the devastation caused, or for the harrowing hours of watching the waters rise, or for the lives claimed; rather, I am thankful for the human response. My three boys are quickly transitioning into men, and their world views are expanding. As they notice things going on around them, each struggles with how much hatred and derision there is everywhere. I struggle with it as well—who wouldn’t? With the media harping on the latest, most garish ways people can be ugly to one another and then piping that misery daily into our homes ‘round the clock, it is easy to become disillusioned and overwhelmed. I have always told my children there is more good in the world than bad—infinitely more—but it is a hard lesson to make them see, because the good is quiet and unsensational.
Harvey swept through the lives of the people clamoring over each other to be heard, “My life matters!” “No, MY life matters!” But the filthy water rose up, washing all that away, and making it abundantly clear LIFE matters. Suddenly, there was no racism, no politics, and no religious derision; as the floodwaters rushed in to cover the ground, humanity rushed in and decimated all the things that divide us. We quickly became one, united under the conviction that all people matter, and regardless of our differences, we saved each other. The images that now kept us glued to our screens showed selfless acts of kindness, neighbor helping neighbor, people coming from out-of-state to do whatever needed to be done, and people opening their homes to take in those who lost everything. When the storm passed, the goodwill remained with donations and volunteers having to be rerouted because of the overwhelming abundance.
Yes, I am thankful Harvey showed my boys the good that has always been in the world, but is unseen most of the time. Unfortunately, it often takes a catastrophe to bring it to light, because good is not self-promoting, not headline worthy. Now that Harvey has passed, the kindness and virtue will go back to the un-newsworthy events of a mother comforting her child, a police officer arriving for another day of work, a teacher praying for her students. We are quickly returning to the pettiness that drives us apart…but, nothing can change the fact that we have seen and we know the good is there—and that it runs strong. My sons have not only seen kindness and compassion played out on the news and in real life, but they lived it as they pitched in to help people around us. My words could never make the impact Harvey has made on my sons. That’s a storm surge for which I am truly grateful.
Don’t let kindness and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3 WEB)