For the past few days, I’ve been sitting, feeling helpless and stressed as I read post after post of people begging for their lives and the rescue of their stranded family members. I know it’s probably not healthy to constantly watch these types of tweets, but I also feel it’s emotionally unhealthy to just look away and be apathetic.
So I have been riding my knees from afar, praying, knowing that is really all I can do at the moment. I’ve been tweeting emergency information to those who need it, hoping that one of the numbers will work for them. I’ve donated to a trusted cause.
Thankfully, the vast majority of people who were in trouble have been rescued according to the most recent reports. And I’ve been seeing some beautiful stories come out of this ugly situation that have definitely inspired me.
A few key truths have been revealed in the past few days about people (particularly Americans) and about life in general. These are truths that I already knew to be true, but it’s a bit of a relief to see them confirmed once again. This country has been in a state of emotional distress for about a year, making many of us question what is true and what is “fake.”
Here is what I re-learned from watching the Houston flood drama unfold.
There Are Good People Out There–LOTS of Them
It can be tempting to focus on all the stories about people who are negative, mean, and apathetic — especially thanks to 24/7 social media. But if you shift your focus, you’ll see that there are many, many, many really awesome, thoughtful, and caring people in the world. They just don’t get as much attention on a daily basis. See this story, this story and this photo (volunteers lined up) if you need to be reminded that there are plenty of very good human beings still out there.
We Have to Help Ourselves and Each Other in Trying Times — We Need Each Other
When situations like the Houston flood occur, citizens can’t always expect a gov agency or emergency phone number to provide safety or rescue immediately. We have to be prepared to help each other and ourselves in stressful times.
When you’re in a position to help someone in distress, your responsibility as a good human is to do what you can to help. It might be loading your boat into the back of your pickup and driving miles to save a family. It might mean donating supplies to a shelter to make sure that people are clean and eating. It might mean putting your favorite pastime on pause and spending the day spreading necessary information. It might mean simply getting on your knees and praying in earnest. We have to help each other.
One woman on Twitter took the time out of her day to make calls to emergency lines on behalf of distressed people on social media to ensure that they were on rescue lists. It was a small thing that made a big difference.
Preparedness is the main way we can help ourselves. No one should be fighting over bottled water the day before a major natural event. Every home should have an emergency preparedness kit, canned foods, and loads of water stashed away. People often laugh at doomsday “preppers” — those people who stock their basements and emergency shelters with canned goods and water. But to a certain degree they have the right idea in mind. With climate change and so many other threats worldwide, now more than ever we have to be prepared for emergencies.
I also think it might be a good idea to make small, inexpensive boats requirements for every household or rental property that is located in a potentially vulnerable coastal area. Or at least a fleet of boats stocked by towns/cities. I learned that you can buy a standard boat for under $200, which I think is reasonable. Countless people were saved because of the bravery and dedication of private citizens who owned their own boats.
Follow Your Intuition, Always
Days before the flooding happened in Houston, some people from the area were posting memes and light-hearted jokes about Harvey. They were unfortunately doing this instead of preparing and making serious decisions about what to do to protect themselves and their families. Sometimes the fun of social media has to be put aside to handle serious matters. Also, I believe that regardless of what may be broadcast on the news, you have to follow your intuition in tough situations like this. Trust your intuition, always.
Color, Religion, Etc. Doesn’t Matter When You Need Urgent Help
I believe it has only been a few weeks since a group of white nationalists marched on Charlottesville VA, threatening minority groups with violence. It lead to the death of an innocent woman who was bravely countering the hate.
One important truth that the Houston floods has revealed is that color doesn’t matter when it comes to saving someone or getting saved. People of all races, religions, and backgrounds were riding in those boats together, just thankful to be with each other and safe.
America Can Still Be Great Again, But Again It’s Up to Us
Working together, loving one another, planning, and implementing smart ideas — these are the things that have kept the USA strong and revered by other nations for so long. We have to get back to all of that and eliminate the negative distractions that are causing division. We have to come together and put differences aside for the greater good.
We also have to stand up and speak up about what’s wrong and how to make it right. This doesn’t have to be done from a huge, popular media platform — a conversation can start right at your kitchen table.
Lynn is the author of You Matter and other empowering audiobooks for women.