Does this sound familiar: hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, crying along with the DACA recipients as they break down on national television, clenching your gut as you read about more children suffering in Yemen and Syria, growing angry as you hear about more anti-Muslim crimes and white supremacist rallies?
If so, you’re not alone. This has been one tumultuous week for so many people, from all walks of life. Perhaps the beauty occurring among all of these natural disasters is how some Americans are helping each other make it to safety; helping each other to just survive.
It’s times like these that this spirit of service takes over, despite one’s skin color, religion, gender, or political affiliation.
[Side note: I was born and raised in East Tennessee; the Appalachian Mountains, to be exact. Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State” and where I grew up we took this whole “If you need a cup of sugar, I’ll give you five” thing seriously, despite the KKK still existing and extremely conservative politicians rampantly formulating oppressive policies.]
Yesterday after talking about the hurricanes hitting the southeast of the U.S. this weekend, a friend asked me, “Why don’t we have this collective spirit all of the time?”
Does it actually take a natural disaster to blow our literal and figurative walls down, so we will be forced to help someone (different from us), in hopes that someone else will also help us in return?
I thought of this poem by Sherman Alexie, which addresses the hatred currently plaguing the United States and spreading throughout Europe:
I will sing for people who might not sing for me.
I will sing for people who are not my family.
I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.
I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.
Perhaps now is the perfect moment for us to acknowledge how much we can lift each other up in a time of hardship, how well we can work together despite our differences, and how much minorities are doing for our communities; even though the tides might turn against them again, once the hurricanes and other natural disasters pass.
Will we build our walls back up then or will we stay collected?