Just last weekend, many of us recognized Easter and Passover, and meditated on the blessings of cleansing, renewal, and rebirth or freedom from the past, both literal and metaphoric. Some of us considered the practical application in our modern lives, and the idea that sometimes we make deliberate choices to separate from what has gone before, and sometimes those choices are foisted upon us.
In the days that followed those holiest of remembrances, tornadoes unexpectedly ravished the Southeast — leveling towns and neighborhoods and taking over three hundred lives. I was riveted to the television and computer, much as I had been thirty-one months ago as the sun came up on what had been my home in Galveston, Texas, the morning after Hurricane Ike roared ashore.
Those of us who found our lives upended by that 100-year storm struggled to understand why the eyes of the world were seemingly blind to our plight. It felt like no one cared, no one came (except the carpetbaggers), and certainly no one understood. If we weren’t suffering from collective post traumatic stress, it was something close. Everyone of us said the same thing: “Why me? Why us?”
And the answer came back over and over again: There can be only one reason to survive tragedy — to learn. To learn something, somehow, through the pain — through the effort not only to survive, but to recover and then thrive — to learn something that we can offer the next wounded person. It’s our responsibility, I had to believe, to remember how it felt and what we needed so that when it happened to someone else, and it certainly would, we would know how to help. We would be uniquely qualified to step in and ease someone’s pain. We have to, we must, pay it forward.
Tuscaloosa and any number of small towns and communities across Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia need our efforts and energy and our particular insights into the soul of a disaster. We didn’t have social media in 2008 to the degree we have it today. We can reach out, touch, organize, share resources with an extraordinarily large extended community. If you aren’t on Facebook yet, this is the time. You don’t have to be able to write a check or do heavy lifting to help. But you do have to show up.
I invite you to post what you are doing or opportunities that you hear about in the Comment section below so that others might learn new ways to send aid and solace.
Then share this essay with your email contacts and through your social media networks (there are Share this buttons at the bottom of this post). A thousand or more people typically read this blog. We could double or triple that if you share the link. If everyone makes even a small effort, we can change lives.
And won’t that make what we went through a little more bearable?
So tell me — What are you doing, Galveston?
Selected essays about recovering from Hurricane Ike: