Post-Harvey

I have yet to discuss anything related to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

In a way, I feel unqualified to give much insight that somebody else hasn’t already contributed, someone who probably has more knowledge and experience than I do. I’ve never been to that region of the United States, know anybody who does live there, nor have I ever been in a severe storm of that caliber.

What will one person’s words on the internet do in the grand scheme of things? Probably not much. I don’t have a profound, groundbreaking message to share that will make a lasting impact past the limited number of people who might read this.

However, with what I can do, a young person fortunate enough to be states away from the scene, I hope I can at least say a few words that will ease my racing thoughts and maybe reach others thinking the same things.

Even though today is Labor Day, for so many, there is plenty of work to be done, indefinitely. The amount of damage from the passing weeks is record-breaking. Thousands of people needing help, just the realization of that fact is overwhelming. I cannot begin to imagine what Harvey victims are enduring right now. My prayers go out to everyone.

In these moments, many people are bound to think of how there couldn’t possible be a God because who in their right mind would allow such destruction to happen to innocent people? I, however, see this as an opportunity to remember our humanity, our inner urgency to support each other, regardless of our differences. Even for a moment, we forget our jealousies, our hatreds, our biases, in favor of reaching out for a hand to hold. When many are displaced from their houses, we must provide a new means of refuge.

Obviously such talk isn’t getting anything done. Tomorrow we could be back to arguing about Confederate statues and minimizing our perspectives to an individual scale. For so many, lives may be forever changed, scarred by flooding waters. We can observe from afar and think of everyone affected, but more importantly, what can we learn from this?

First off, let’s shift our focus to what matters most. Where are our priorities in life? What causes and activities is our energy going toward? Those of us too far away to provide immediate support to the Gulf Coast, we reside in an awkward situation. What can we actually do, if anything?

Be a helper. We have enough people creating unnecessary violence, speaking critically for senseless problems. I believe there’s something in all of us that’s instinctively seeking to help others. That help might not look like flying in to people stranded on rooftops or passing out food to those in makeshift shelters. There is a purpose for all of us to make a positive impact in the world. Moments we spend dabbling in negative, harmful thoughts and activities are ones we can instead put toward making a difference for others.

Let’s remember what might have contributed to Harvey becoming as violent as it did. Science has shown that climate change and global warming result in more dramatic weather patterns. Harvey is no exception. If there is anything to make the reality of man-made climate change more pertinent, this should be it. Every little action does matter. We can become more conscious of our own choices that simultaneously help others in the future, preventing storms like this from hopefully occurring.

Be gracious for everything. Cliche, but our constant blessings can numb us to the impact they actually have on our lives. We would never think for ourselves losing a roof over our heads, wondering where our next meal might come from, or searching for clean drinking water. All of our luxuries blur together, requiring us to specifically pinpoint what we have. It then drives an incentive to help those who might not have those things available to thank for right now.

I cannot pick up everything right now to volunteer with the Red Cross. I cannot donate all of my money for disaster relief or drive in crowds to do the same. But what I can do is support the countless people and organizations who do have those options at their disposal. I can be more aware of my intentions and priorities in life and encourage others to do the same.

When we lose hope in humanity, we shed our harsh divisions and bear our vulnerabilities to others. Whether Harvey or just in everyday life, we all come across those times when we must admit our own need for help as well as be the one uplifting others who are struggling. That’s truly what life is about: for one person or a thousand, helping make their lives better. We are here to serve each other. It’s a beautiful cycle of empathy, except that we only seem to refer back to it when we’re at our weakest.

To think if we always helped every single person who may or may not cross our paths. If we looked past our religions, skin colors, political parties, and just showed compassion to all. What a world that would be.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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