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Why Does it Take the Worst to Find Our Best?

I hear the fear in my daughter’s voice over the cell phone Monday night. She was in Kingwood, Texas, smack in the middle of Hurricane Harvey. The power had been turned off, and she couldn’t risk a long call if she couldn’t recharge her battery. Usually hearing her voice makes things better. But not this day. We were both helpless.

A month prior, Shannon and her husband, Garin, had bought their first house. It hadn’t gone smoothly. If Harvey followed the same negative trajectory of their recent lives, it couldn’t be good.

Word on the street had it that water would go next. They would need to fill tubs and every spare container with water.

How ironic: as record rains fell on their roof outside, they were worried about hoarding water inside.

Then there was a roof leak. Thanks to the kindness of a neighbor, they patched it. Eventually the power went back on. The water in their faucet flowed; their roof stopped leaking. They watched the forecast. Would it stop raining soon? They didn’t know.

What they did know was Harvey wasn’t picking or choosing his victims. He didn’t care if you were young, old, legal, illegal, alt right, far left, rich or poor. Harvey didn’t care if you had just lost a child and were grieving; if you were having your first chemo treatment or if you had just bought a house for the first time. If you were in his way, he was going to get you. There was no discrimination—hence the fear.

In the end Shannon and Garin were blessed, and they knew it. Their house stood unscathed. They had made it through. “Who needs shelter? We have two extra bedrooms,” they said. And, “what else can we do to help?”

Many others chimed in offering their assistance, too. Just like Harvey, the helpers didn’t ask. It didn’t matter if the victims were rich or poor, legal, illegal, Republican or Democratic, Christian, Muslim, or an unbeliever. In cases of disasters, when humans see other humans in need, tribe doesn’t matter. We are simply part of a whole. ‘Other’ does not exist.

I fill my gas tank, and feel the last bands of Harvey: pointed drops of rain on my face, with a shadow of a bending wind messing my hair. And I wonder.

How long will we remember…and remain our best?

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