After months of watching our nation treat each other like a label or a political philosophy or a pre-existing condition— anything but a fellow human — we’re watching the humanity resurface.
I watched the live feed on Facebook.
It was a nursing home in Southeast Texas — flooded due to Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Harvey. The Texas accent was strong as I heard a man tell the wheel chair-bound woman, “Ma’am, you’re going to be ok.”
Along with three other men, he carried her in the wheel chair to the boat’s edge. I watched as they worked together to position themselves for the lift. They motioned to each other to coordinate the effort and reduce the amount of conversation that would have added words she didn’t need to hear. She was not a small woman, but I never heard a grunt or a groan signifying the effort needed to lift her into the craft.
Her face had been covered, likely because the reporter was broadcasting. The rest of her body was concealed with the bodies of her protectors and it looked like the camera-person was intentional with his angle.
Once in the boat, I watched the man and one woman tend to her needs. Again came the strong southern voice of the man driving the boat, “It’s all good, ma’am. You’re going to be fine. We’ll get you to the hospital.”
I cried through the entire thing.
Cut back to the anchorwoman, who noted this was only one of many who needed to be rescued in the middle of the rapidly rising water.
It would be easy in a time like this to treat the humans like the livestock we’ve seen herded down the Texas streets to higher ground. After all, the work is immense and the workers are outnumbered.
But time after time, I watch professional and volunteer rescuers — both from Texas and out of state — take a moment to hug a victim, cradle a baby, or place their cowboy hat on the gray-haired head of their charge.
I read something a former flood victim shared. The writer explained: “When you flood, you might as well be on Mars. Everything that was easy and familiar is now complex and foreign.” He gave tangible advice for how we could help those who are experiencing this kind of loss. The advice included “sharing your stuff” like vehicles, garages, and homes.
And then he added:
“No one who has flooded wants to live with someone else or use their stuff.
Understand how much it sucks to be so helpless, it’s dehumanizing.”
And then it hit me — what I’ve been trying to process, as I stay glued to the news and the feeds. In the middle of the dehumanizing situations and flooded with inhumane circumstances, our hope in humanity is being restored.
After months of watching our nation treat each other like a label or a political philosophy or a pre-existing condition — anything but a fellow human — we’re watching the humanity resurface as the story worth telling. As Sandra Bullock stated:
“There are no politics in eight feet of water.
There are human beings in eight feet of water.”
This is Us
Texas is my birthplace. We moved a few years ago and I still joke about having “left the promised land.” I’ll celebrate #TexasStrong all day long.
But this is bigger than Texas. (And that’s not an easy thing to outsize.)
It’s not just about Texans. This is about Americans.
It’s the Cajun navy,
the Kentucky volunteer,
the relief effort from Virginia,
and the New York Task Force.
the football star,
and the Lake Jackson native who left classes at A&M to bring his boat to help.
It’s the reporters who sacrifice the scoop to become part of the story and preserve life and dignity. (See note at end*)
This. This is us.
Humanity coming together.
Because when tragedy strikes, we all come face to face with our own fragile nature and vulnerability.
All lives matter.
All lives are worth saving.
All humanity is worth dignifying.
We’re not out there triaging the perceived future usefulness or contribution to society of the one who is rescued. It’s life. It’s worth saving.
And as a believer in the Creator God of all life, I believe this innate nature comes to the front because we were created in HIS image. In the words of my own mom:
“The God-given instinct of people is to save life — to save lives. If there is a lesson from Harvey, this is the one I’ve seen so far:
Life is too precious to give it up and precious enough to give up everything we’ve got to preserve it.”
Her entire post is worth reading, but here’s how she landed her eloquent thoughts:
“There are many stories coming of sacrifice and selflessness.
I encourage you to read them,
put them in your heart,
and savor them in your mind.
When hate and anger and evil surface again,
remember in your heart that God was glorified
and people treated people with His love.
May He continue to be glorified.
May we never forget what it felt like
to feel like the only thing that matters is life!”
Here’s to humanity in the most dehumanizing of situations.
And all glory to the God who created humans to reflect His love and spread His hope.
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
*P.S. If you haven’t seen this video, watch the 21-year-old carefully help the elderly gentleman and then go back for his dogs.
Hear the gentle concern in the reporter’s voice and then his instructions to the anchorwoman that he wants to be sensitive,
not knowing the condition of the man’s wife who is about to be brought out from the water.
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“Your light was made for this darkness.“