Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
It’s been several days since Harvey slammed into the Texas coast as a category 4 hurricane, signaling the beginning of a nightmare week featuring unprecedented rainfall, flooding, destruction, and human suffering.
As a commentator and essayist, I like to pay close attention to both what is happening and what is being said. I have been impressed at the willingness of people to pitch in and help, the generosity of the initial responses, and the sense of community that has emerged, not only in the stricken areas but throughout the nation as a whole.
Then, the other day, I ran across a thread of ignorance, prejudicial assumptions, and small-mindedness that I simply could not ignore. The comments raise issues that we all need to be aware of, as Americans, going forward.
The social-media based conversation originated in another country, beginning with a complaint that Houston was getting “too much attention,” and that “horrible weather in Texas” didn’t belong at the front end of their nation’s news programming.
I pointed out that a cat-4 hurricane followed by 50-inches of rain is not so much “weather” as a calamitous disaster of epic proportions, resulting in overwhelming human suffering.
That’s when another person suggested that what’s happening in Texas only makes the headlines because it’s in the United States. They said the news media doesn’t pay attention to suffering in third world countries. Then they made the comment that people in Texas are going to be inconvenienced, granted, but they’ll be back on their feet soon enough. Not only that but (and this was what forced me to respond) – unlike other disasters in the world – “Texas will get all the money…”
Not those other needy places, but Texas, will get all the money…
Okay, folks, let’s think about that for a while.
- Fact is, the United States of America leads the world in generosity when it comes to disaster relief throughout the globe. Contributions and aid channeled via government agencies (we, the people) literally dwarfs the efforts of other nations.
- Additionally, and independent of the federal government, American individuals and NGO’s out-give the rest of the world at a staggering rate. Americans donate their skills, they volunteer their time, they share their resources, they give their money, and they devote their prayers in response to needs overseas with a level of dedication and selfless generosity no other nation on earth has ever matched.
Texas will receive timely help from Washington, yes, but it won’t nearly scratch the surface of need. Churches, individuals, NGO’s (including Presbyterian Disaster Assistance), are already gearing up. Businesses from all over the USA will donate people and resources. But it still won’t cover all the need.
Why? Because there isn’t enough money in the world to bring back lost loved-ones, replace pets and homes and books and photographs and memories washed away or destroyed, replicate communities obliterated by trillions of tons of water, rebuild lost businesses, cover lost wages, pay the mortgage on a home that doesn’t exist anymore….
So please don’t say it’s easy for anyone in Texas.
But of course it isn’t easy for anyone, anywhere, who loses everything, and that’s a situation repeated daily throughout this diverse world. And as it happens here, and elsewhere, again and again and again, you can count on Americans to give anyway (even though they just gave to Houston), and to serve regardless, and to pray without ceasing, and to respond to all need the very best that they can.
We’d even help you, if we possibly could. That’s just who we are. You see we’ve done that a couple of times before…
Derek Maul is an author, blogger, journalist, and disciple living in North Carolina