On Disaster and Shattered Narratives

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and flooded the southeast portion of my home State. I have read reports that the rainfall totals broke continental records. Since such totals have been recorded, there has not been this much rainfall on the North American Continent.

What I will be looking at today is something that caught my attention as events unfolded. I will drop this in the personal safety category because how you interact with other people plays a tremendous role in your level of personal safety. Although some portions of the topic might seem political, this is only due to the climate of debate in our time. I actually think that most of the people who read this one will not get emotional or angry at all. I saw some really positive stuff this week, and I thought about it a lot. I want to share some of this with you.

During the extremely draining and lengthy lead up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the news was filled with polarizing and inflammatory rhetoric. Many of the louder voices on both sides continually upped the ante in terms of seeing how far would be too far in demonizing the other side.

As it happens, they never seemed to think they had gone far enough. By the time of the election, by all accounts, things were really bad in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Some of us are critical thinkers. We can see a news report and right away see the juvenile ways in which they try to stir up our emotions. Whether you were watching right or left leaning news sources, this was being done. I took frequent breaks from the news. I felt sorry for myself and the age I was living in and was quite jealous of the voters in 1800 who got to choose between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

But I was continually puzzled at the doom and gloom shown on the news, and the absolute opposite that I was seeing in my interactions with real human beings. By all news accounts, the Country was half deplorable and half snowflake. But among my friends, coworkers, and the complete strangers that are a part of living life I saw very few of either.

Sure, friends from both sides of the political spectrum regurgitated the canned soundbites they had seen on the news. No worries or surprises there. This is no sign of stupidity, this is a human habit. And it is a habit that gives me no cause for alarm. People do it, and I see no reason to really care.

To be sure; there are asshat racist idiots in the Country, and there are the grown-up babies who need safe spaces and cry at the sight or sound of a word they don’t like. But, they are few. The lack of on-the-ground proof of the deplorable/snowflake societal aggregate gave me pause. I was puzzled and curious.

After the election, there were the people on T.V. crying on cue, and the outlandish behavior of attention junkies on the social media sites, but the normal people were okay even when they voted for the other person. Grownups understand that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. At my age, I can say that this is a fact. Political elections here are like a pendulum. Our tastes swing from one extreme to the other, and then back again.

But the media kept pushing this idea that we were, as a Nation, at a crossroads. And that if something was not done, the country would be lost forever. There was a lot of coverage of riots protests on inauguration day. There have actually been people beating up people they disagree with at planned riots protests.

Then comes Hurricane Harvey.

Texas, like many other States, has widely varying political views. Most of the State is right leaning, with our highly populated big cities being more left leaning. As the Hurricane approached, there was a certain level of political jockeying being done. The Republican Governor sent messages on social media that the city of Houston should evacuate (smart). The Democratic Mayor of Houston said that Houstonians should ignore that request (not so smart). Hurricanes flood the right and the left.

The hurricane hit, and the city flooded like never before.

Did the left leaning people of Houston leave the deplorable citizens to die? Did the right leaning people have no time to save the snowflakes? Did the Police check skin color or immigration status before helping people? Was political affiliation or voting record needed in order to get in a boat to safety?

No, no, no, and no.

Regular people are not like what you read about or see on T.V. and the internet.

The real people who had the means to help helped others without regard to any of the divisive categories forced upon us by our betters. I admit to feeling a certain measure of glee when I realized that the narrative of division and hate supposedly permeating our Country had been shattered. I would be lying if I did not also admit that there was a fair amount of satisfaction in the fact that it was Texas who had the chance to showcase the false narrative to everyone. In a time of true disaster, people were just people, and they were doing what we do here. They were helping and trying to save lives. None of the divisions mattered at all. Yes, there was some looting. We always have and always will have to suffer the selfish and the stupid. There have been some scammers trying to set up fake charities to collect money that will only go to the person setting up the scam. We always have and always will have to suffer the selfish and the stupid.

I felt really good about the humanity at its best on full display. The death count is still rising, and this continues to break my heart. But in trying to see the good, I think I found it.

It is good to know that, in spite of the loud extremists on both sides, the vast middle ground is peopled with folk who want to get along and live their lives. I found a reason to think that we might just get past all of this hate!

Continue to take care of each other.