A small shudder of fear goes down my spine when I read headlines like: “Hurricane Florence expected to bring life-threatening wind, rain, storm surges, and floods to the Carolinas.” Even if the storm is not really near us, it is definitely impacting our southernmost Mid-Atlantic neighbors. It sure feels like it’s close to home.
There are some 10 million people in harm’s way with this monster storm, regardless of what category it is. More than a million left their homes, not knowing what they’ll find when they return. Watching the news, you just wish that you could do something to help.
To add to our emotional turmoil, we marked the anniversary of 9/11 this week—17 years since the horror and tragedy descended on our country. Washington, DC, was sorely impacted by those attacks, and across the country people watched the news and wished they could do something to help.
Every anniversary of 9/11 we are reminded of what that horrible situation felt like—as well as how it felt to come together and pull ourselves through it. It was a remarkable time, filled with very bad and very good.
This is also a remarkable time. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of the first responders who are poised to help in the Carolinas were among the first responders who provided assistance after 9/11. There are a lot of images on TV that look like other disasters where we have looked into the heart of a crisis and then looked at one another and decided to pull together to confront it.
As long as that storm is pounding our neighbors, we will be thinking about them, praying for them, and giving our resources—and our time, if asked—to help them.
But when this storm is over, I have a suggestion. Let’s not wait for a crisis to pull together. Maybe we can find some other ways to stand shoulder to shoulder. Maybe the crisis of polarization that is overtaking this country is best met by people like you and me who remember that we’ve been through storms together—and we remember how it feels to join hand and hand to confront a common foe.
I’m a big believer in prayer, and I think those folks who are hunkered down this weekend, besieged by wind and rain, could use every prayer we have to offer. But that’s not all, and they aren’t the only ones. I’d like to think that we can all become better at being people who know how to respond to a crisis, know how to pray and what to pray for, and know that everything we do to make things better for someone else makes a difference, starting with ourselves.
How about we join together in that?